Top tech predictions for 2018

25 January, 2018

This year will see the world’s first trillion dollar company and the race is now on to see who can get there first – Google or Apple. In the day, the leading companies would have been commodity-based – oil, gas and tobacco. Today it’s software and technology that rules – and their innovations and ideas have a far greater impact than just phones and search engines.

Architecture and development are feeling these changes and their conversations often mirror those of the tech giants: AI, VR, Cognitive, Big Data, IoT and much more.

With that in mind we have spoken to those who have their fingers on the pulse when it comes to tech and innovation in architecture. Here are their top predictions.

Reviewing the software options

VR and AR have been huge topics of conversation in recent years. 2017 was meant to be the year they which saw their breakthrough. This hasn’t quite happened so far. However, there’s still plenty that’s new and for some architects the technology is starting to have impact.

David Miller, Director at David Miller Architects, and overall winner of the Archiboo Web Awards in 2017, provides an intriguing example.

“We believe that openness and transparency are increasingly important attributes of practice, so it’s important that this comes through when we present our work as well as showing our technical and professional competence.

“Last year this led us to introduce a degree of user-controlled content on our website in the form of interactive digital models… we firmly believe that giving the visitor more freedom is right, and we’ll continue to move away from the over-controlled image to a more transparent representation. In 2018, we’ll therefore be pushing forwards by exploring the use of 3D augmented reality on new projects and perhaps 3D reality capture on our completed buildings.”

Miller said the practice attended and spoke at last year’s VR world conference, and that it will be returning this year to review software options. “What we are using at the moment is Autodesk A360, which is a cloud-based renderer that we upload to our Revit models, then view them with a smartphone and a pair of cheap goggles off eBay, making it quite cost effective.”

Smart buildings delivering smart data

The concept of the smart home is familiar to most and the smart building is presenting a host of opportunities. Radek Kaminski, BDP, explains:

“Personally, I think we might see more websites which allow visitors to look ‘inside’ their smart buildings. The public will be able to see how the building performs, the type of energy used, saved, reused, water saved and all other things that have an impact on our environment. And as technology advances, companies will feel encouraged to reduce the impact they are having. We will also see more and more machine learning algorithms playing an important part in improving user experience and information relevancy.”

Furthermore this wealth of data will bring about investment in AI and cognitive analytics – making sense of the data and ensuring there are clear actionable outputs.

Scale no longer matters

Both small and large firms have challenges when it comes to innovating and implementing technology. For small practices, it can be the spend involved, for larger firms it can be more difficult to flex and adapt.

But in 2018, there are a multitude of cheaper tools and technologies that small firms can access, including Traffic Truffle which will tell you which clients have been looking at your website and YouTube which allows you to upload and host VR footage for free.

The important point is that customers expect creative digital experiences so practices must find ways to provide them.

Get the basics right

When judging the Archiboo Web Awards last year, we received many comments noting the improvements and maturity of technology usage in entrants. But there’s still plenty of work to be done.

Graham Aldwinckle, associate director at Arup  sponsor of the Best Overall 2017 award, makes a pertinent point:

“Everyone says that 2018 will be about Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, and I have every reason to believe that is where the smart money is going.  What this is conveniently ignoring though is the underlying need of the industry to catch up to where we should all be at today, before embracing this new tech.”

“Training has a vitally important role even for our cash-strapped industry, yet is undervalued in our race to automate anything and everything.  Proper interoperability of tools needs to come before AI.  As the ex-CEO of Autodesk said recently, ‘The A in AI should be thought of as Augmented rather than Artificial, at least for the next 10 years’.”

From Archiboo’s perspective, there’s no doubt that technology and software is gaining a deeper respect within the industry and the realisation is growing that new platforms and tools are vital as a way of reflecting your brand and allowing you to work with customers in new ways.


Image caption: Radical Love, DNA portrait of Chelsea Manning by Heather Dewey-Hagborg