Photo by Luke Abaffy
An augmented-reality app displays 3D designs when a smartphone scans QR codes.

Discovering future applications of current tech is a leadership theme of Manolis Kotzabasakis, the new chairman and CEO of Viewpoint Construction Software, who took the reins from Jay Haladay earlier this year.

"We, as a technology company, need to work with our most visionary customers to see how new technology [such as unmanned aerial vehicles] and others will play out and can be harnessed," he said at Viewpoint's conference, held on Sept. 14-17 in Portland, Ore. More than 1,600 people attended.

Viewpoint's team may have learned as much as it taught just by watching users walk the exhibit hall and test out coming releases, such as Viewpoint's recent  acquisition, U.K.-based Field View—formerly called Priority1—a cloud-based project management tool and electronic forms and process control system for tablets.

"It's been a fantastic response," said Richard Scott, director of market development at Viewpoint and ex-managing director at Priority1, who showed it off in the exhibit hall. He started developing technology for construction in 2001 with a mobile punch-list system for the Palm OS.

"There was no market for this. We created the U.K. market," he said. "We developed the product and moved to Windows PDAs in 2004 and Android tablets in 2012." With Viewpoint now behind his application, Scott said that, in the coming months, he would fulfill more of his dreams, such as releasing his product for iOS devices and in North America.

To increase the usability of its applications, Viewpoint consulted a team of user-experience experts and totally redesigned the apps with the environment of the user in mind, explained Jeremy Larson, senior product manager. He noted that the industry designs for three levels of usability: smartphone, tablet and desktop. "Our competitors are racing to get an app out, [and] we're thinking about both mobile and desktop," he said. My Viewpoint, which comes out on Sept. 28, aims to make these platforms flow together seamlessly.

"I think integration of products is what we're most excited about," added Brian Chaisson, ERP application administrator at EMCOR Construction Services, Norwalk, Conn. "That's much better than having to log in to each separate application every time you want to use it. It will save time."

My Viewpoint will start by making RFIs user-friendly and seamless across platforms and then move on to incorporate submittals, document control and eventually all Viewpoint's applications into the single dashboard.

Out on the exhibition floor, users visited other booths, as well. The JB Knowledge booth drew crowds of  people as its team showed off the firm's eye-catching proprietary Smart Reality offerings, such as the new Oculus Rift headset used for site walk-throughs. It also exhibited its augmented-reality app, which displays 3D designs when a smartphone camera reads special QR codes on site drawings.

Using new technology to better manage risk means that a user often must look beyond conventional wisdom to see what the data actually shows. "It's not what we don't know that gets us into trouble—it's what we know as fact, but it ain't so," said Adam Denno, strategy director at JB Knowledge Inc., Bryan, Texas.