Visual Construction Diaries – Interview with Jeff Sassinsky of Fovea Aero
Jeff Sassinsky, President of Fovea Aero, gave me a live demonstration on Fovea Aero Vision – an app that allows you to a get a fully immersive visual construction diary of your project.
The idea for the development of Fovea Aero Vision came from discussions with general contractors, owners, and other construction industry professionals. They were talking about the use of smartphones, particularly phone cameras, in construction. The photos, for example, of a fitting that does not look right end up in a folder on a server or goes back and forth in email messages. “The lack of any structure behind both the collection and the storage and sharing of the photos is hampering their usage,” Jeff said. “We wanted to solve the problem by creating a full record of everything that takes place on a construction site, on a regular basis, sharing it among the stakeholders, and making it super easy to use.”
Jeff pointed out that their solution does not compete with BIM. In fact, it complements BIM or virtual reality models that are sometimes a bit hard to use in practice. “Our solution makes you feel like you’re on the site,” Jeff explained.
Fovea Aero Vision takes you to the construction site and back in time
Jeff showed me the early release of the app. He reminded me that they’re continually adding features, but the most important functions are there already. The challenge that the company took up was to collect the maximum amount of information from the site in the shortest period of time.
Single snapshots are not the solution since you cannot always anticipate where to shoot. As the construction advances, certain areas will become invisible and cannot be inspected afterwards. Another problem is that it can be difficult to put a single image in context. A picture of a junction box or fitting does not necessarily contain information of the time or place where it was taken.
Fovea Aero Vision, the company’s cloud-based service, uses 360-degree photos which the user takes periodically or on-demand. Having a full record of all the main phases of the construction allows you to go back in time. You can, for example, see what’s inside a wall or under a foundation when you’re improving or renovating the building.
A visual diary
Using Vision is straightforward. All it requires is a desktop, laptop, or mobile device browser and an internet connection. After login, the user sees all the projects that they are working on. After picking the right project, the user sees general information about the project, a map, and a calendar. The highlighted dates in the calendar mark days from which there’s data available.
A day has a breakdown of the locations – rooms or predefined areas on different floors. A location name is a link to a 360-degree, high-resolution image from the named location. The user can look around and zoom in on interesting details. “You can actually use VR goggles with the images, but none of our clients currently use that feature,” Jeff said.
Taking the photos is straightforward
Jeff recommends that one person on the site is responsible for taking the photos. Fovea Areo can provide the customer with a 360-degree camera that takes great images and stores location data with one click. The system can also use drone data. In fact, the database accepts any kind of ground-based or aerial imagery.
Before going to the site, the user defines the list of the locations that the images will come from. The app then creates a pdf file with QR codes, which the user prints and places them on the right locations during the first shoot. Since GPS is not very accurate indoors, the QR code provides a simple, reliable way to mark the locations. When the user takes the photos, the app asks to scan the QR code first with a smartphone. The code then associates the photo with the place that is stored in the system’s database.
Fovea Areo will keep adding new features to Vision based on customer requests and feedback. Jeff mentioned the use of overlaid icons on an architectural plan to locate the images. Some clients want to use the imagery on Facebook for advertising. Downloading images and posting them to Facebook for advertising is going to be possible soon.
Based on what I saw, Fovea Areo Vision combines simplicity of use with great value. It is available in the cloud for a monthly fee. To learn more about the service and get a live demo, go to http://www.foveaaero.com/ and click on “Construction”.
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