From Novelty to Necessity: A Look Back at Five 2020 Sessions Illustrates How AI Is Disrupting Construction

AI in Construction Tech is Everywhere
2020 Saw an explosion of AI powered apps, and the industry is beginning to see real benefits (Photo: Pixelbay)

If the focus five years ago was on moving apps off PC's and into the cloud and onto mobile devices, the last five years has increasingly been about "smart" automation. Slowly, but steadily, we have seen the number of artificial intelligence use cases, applications and startups grow from an early trickle to a tidal wave, as instances of AI have become almost ubiquitous in AECO Technology.

A Brief Chronology of AI Solutions and BuiltWorlds.

If last year brought us a torrent of AI-Leveraged solutions to explore, our journey in AECO AI began early in our founding. At our 2016 Summit, Peter Lasensky, CEO of Notevault introduced us to the concept of "voice-based" project management with apps that could recognize voice. Then, at our 2017 Summit, Josh Kanner, CEO of, presented an app that could read images to identify safety issues on a job site.  Next, at our Buildings Conference in the fall of that year, came a firm called ALICE Technologies that brought us an application for the automated development of a schedule. Then, the following spring, Sunil Dorairajan, CEO of Pype, introduced us to a software that could read and recognize specification docs. From there, use cases and applications have proliferated and also become increasingly robust to the point that it is now almost difficult to find serious design, planning, construction, or operations technology that doesn't incorporate at least some level of artificial intelligence.

Below is a playlist from some of the most interesting use cases we saw in 2020 (and also a spotlight on one we'll dive into next week):

Artificial Intelligence - Next Week's Case Study: ALICE Technologies

Founded in 2013, ALICE Technologies was one of the first applications to move generative computing from design to construction.  We met ALICE founder and CEO, Rene Morkos,  at our Buildings Conference back in 2017. There, he offered a presentation about the ways artificial intelligence and machine learning can be used to revolutionize how building construction is scheduled by relying on a BIM-integrated, generative, recipe and parametric approach. Not only could software like this automate the process of building project plans, but it could also run thousands of scenarios to determine the optimum plan.  It was a perfect illustration of the potential for AI to move us from digitization of workflows to automation of workflows and even to optimization.  

We will again be meeting with Rene on the first of two calls next week looking at the development of artificial intelligence in the planning process.

Other Cases From Our 2020 Session Recordings

Beyond ALICE, artificial intelligence applications are proliferating in the engineering and construction industry and providing more autonomy across the industry. We saw literally dozens of examples last year of how the technology is making its way into applications that provide real benefits for the industry. Below is just a taste of what we learned about:

Use Case #1: Voice Recognition

2020 Project Delivery Conference – Field Communication & Productivity

Speakers: Jake Olsen, CEO, DADO Chris Weaver, Director of Technology, Andy J. Egan Co. Session Overview:  Effective on-site communication between field workers, managers, and the office can be the difference between a project that stays on track and one that wavers. Hear from leading specialty contractors how they’re leveraging technology to better communicate with their […]

Use Case #2: Image Recognition

BuiltWorlds Venture Forum Demo Drop – Indus.AI

Indus.AI Automates the monitoring, tracking, analysis and reporting for a diverse range of construction activities. They do this by using a network of cameras powered by computer vision to provide insights into on-site risks and project progress. Project managers, superintendents, owners and other stakeholders are able to access real-time insights enabling them to make proactive […]

Use Case #3: Materials Management (Winner of Our Global Demo Day)

BuiltWorlds Venture Forum Demo Drop – Converge

Converge’s construction data platform provides optimisation intelligence for the entire construction process, using the power of AI and data from its state of the art sensors that measure concrete strength, structural health, and asset location from factory to installation. On a planet with finite resources, our mission is to build the future more efficiently, safely, and sustainably, by digitising physical reality on the job site.

Use Case #4: Robotics

BuiltWorlds Venture Forum Demo Drop – Okibo (CEMEX Ventures 2020 Construction Competition Top Solution)

Okibo Demo Drop

Congrats to Okibo, one of the top 5 finalists named as part of CEMEX Ventures 2020 Construction Startup Competition at our recent Venture Conference Demo Day!

Okibo is developing intelligent, mobile, multi-purpose and autonomous robots for use in construction sites.

Case #5: Text Recognition

2020 BuiltWorlds Digital Summit – Case Study: Leveraging Tech for Pre-Construction & Planning

2020 Digital Summit Case Study:  Leveraging Tech for Pre-Construction & Planning Thursday, 5/7 1:30pm-2pm We’ll explore how Skanska, ranked #7 on the 2019 ENR Top 400 Contractors, is utilizing Pype to quickly Analyze specification documents and gain greater visibility into submittals and requirements. Learn how AI and Machine Learning are being applied in order to […]



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