Sony Innovation Fund Invests in AI Powered Safety Platform, Three Major Trends In Focus

News that AI-powered safety, quality, and productivity platform, has just closed a $5 million round led by Sony Innovation Fund and AI Capital Group, adds further evidence to three trends we have been watching and discussing for the past few years at BuiltWorlds. These trends have profound implications for the next leg of technology development and commercialization within the construction industry, and they point, without question, to a period of much more profound transformation than the industry has experienced in the past decade. If the past decade was about moving to the cloud and mobile devices as we digitize workflows that pretty much mirror how the industry has historically approached business, the next wave of bigger investment in more sophisticated technology speaks to more fundamental and transformative changes to how the business is approached. Here are the trends we see underscored in this latest round into

Trend Number One:  Artificial Intelligence Is Becoming the Norm

When Smartvid debuted VINNIE’s ability to recognize images of people not wearing hard hats or not being tied off at our Summit back in 2017, people were sent scrambling to find the definition of Machine Learning, as attendees questioned the value of spending hours loading videos from job sites into an app only to be told someone wasn’t wearing a hard hat. Still, Josh Kanner implored the audience to understand that “we don’t view our mission as simply creating a means to locate imagery, but using speech and automatic recognition to improve safety and productivity.” While a few other players like Alice Technologies, Evercam, and Pype were some examples of startups leveraging AI from earlier in the decade, a quick scan of the BuiltWorlds Company Directory  reveals no fewer than two dozen companies founded in the past five years indicating they leverage artificial intelligence.

Trend Number Two: Interest by Insurance Companies in Construction Tech is a Cresting Wave

Most people understand that they can get reduced premiums on home owner’s insurance for installing a burglar alarm or on car insurance for safe driving. So, the race is on for technology that provides demonstrable benefits in risk management on projects, and insurance companies want in. With a 20 year history in making venture investments for insurance companies, AI Capital is a leader in insuretech investing, and other insurance companies are also investing more heavily in the sector. AXA XL recently announced a “Construction Ecosystem” with a dashboard where companies can “monitor and aggregate data to manage risk.” Meantime, aside from, major industry insurance company, AON, was the only other non-contractor to become a member of the recently formed Predictive Analytics Strategic Council. For more on the Council, click below to watch Kanner’s presentation.

Josh Kanner on predictive analytics

Trend Number Three: Construction Technology is Going Mainstream

For most of the last decade, investment in the construction tech sector was largely dominated by industry-focused strategic investors like Autodesk, Oracle, and Trimble or Brick & Mortar or Building Ventures, but the arrival of groups like Sony, Google, Facebook, and others means more money will be available for the industry for deeper technology development and also more heft from companies bringing more depth of technology expertise as well as other resources. In all, the arrival of more, bigger generalist investors to the sector likely both signifies the maturation of the sector and also indicates that the next phase of development will bring much more activity and the development of more robust solutions.


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