Two jobcam competitors, EarthCam and Truelook, have recently announced their construction camera content—such as still images, security video and construction time-lapse videos—can now be integrated into the Autodesk’s BIM 360 construction management platform. Users of BIM 360 platform are now able to attach webcam image files and 360° virtual-reality imagery created from photos and video directly to documents and Autodesk BIM 360 hubs as a result of the integration.
“We [initially] announced [a partnership with EarthCam] at our user conference in November at Autodesk University,” says Joshua Cheney, industry manager for construction technology at Autodesk. “So, since then we launched with roughly 30 applications in BIM 360 that were available and since then we've had a ton of interest and a ton of traffic from a variety of different construction workflows.”
Weeks later, Autodesk announced a similar BIM 360 integration with TrueLook.
“Once you’ve connected your TrueLook and Autodesk accounts, you can look at any TrueLook image, mark it up and send it to other Autodesk users,” said Ken Pittman, chief marketing officer for TrueLook. “If a subcontractor needs to see a particular image, you can share it with them through Autodesk BIM 360, even if they’re not a TrueLook user.”
Markup and access via BIM 360 documents and hubs are also part of the earlier EarthCam integration. TrueLook and EarthCam users can access camera images and other data from an Autodesk single sign-on. Executives from Autodesk, EarthCam and TrueLook all said further integration of site still images and video into BIM 360 is a future goal.
Cheney says that one of the things Autodesk’s BIM 360 general contractor customers are often looking for is associating photos or time-lapse information with drawings and building information models. “This is the first phase of a multi-phase approach with [Autodesk],” says EarthCam founder and CEO Brian Cury. “What we’ve already incorporated includes content from drones, content from the camera, all of that collective content can all now be shared within the Autodesk 360 BIM platform. We want to build further on that.”
For Autodesk, allowing more images, video and other jobsite content into BIM 360’s database serves a broader goal. Ultimately it feeds even more construction imagery into Autodesk Forge, the platform which serves as the underpinning for the BIM 360 environment, and advances Autodesk's aim of creating a more robust experience for construction users managing a wide variety of projects. It also may bring users of image and video tools such as EarthCam and Truelook into the BIM 360 platform.
“Some of it is aspirational,” says Jim Lynch, Autodesk construction products vice president. “As we continue to build up 360, open up the API [application program interface] and continue to build up Forge, then Forge really becomes the platform to enable a lot of collaboration so, the next level with Earthcam is aspirational right now but it's not, I’d say, five years off down the road. It's I'd say in the relatively short term.”
Cheney also noted that having project image and video data available on BIM 360 will allow better analysis, thanks to other integrations. Using the live camera feeds Earthcam provides of a job site, he said, can eventually allow a contractor to automate safety monitoring with BIM 360 becoming the central repository of all of that data.
“If you bolt on another tool like [recent Autodesk integration] SmartVid.io, which then can run algorithms and computer intelligence on top of the video or still images, you can look for safety issues,” Cheney says. “Using that artificial intelligence can drive what any field manager really can't do, which is get through hundreds, if not thousands, of photos to identify areas of risk and bring those back to where the safety manager can use that information to make decisions, rather than trying to glean information from all of those different photos.”