OpenSpace raises $14 million for AI platform that visually tracks construction projects
The global construction market will be a $12 trillion industry by 2022, according to a recent Construction Intelligence Center (CIC) forecast. However, the sector is not renowned for its efficiency — various reports indicate that construction is among the lowest-performing industries in terms of productivity, a factor that can be attributed in part to the lack of digitization. And this is leading to a boom in investments aimed at technology startups that are looking to bring building sites into the 21st century.
The latest such startup to garner the attentions of venture capitalists is OpenSpace, a fledgling company that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically create navigable 360-degree photos of construction sites. The company today announced that it has raised $14 million in a series A round of funding led by Lux Capital, with participation from some notable names from the real estate and construction realm, including WeWork, JLL Spark, Navitas Capital, Suffolk Construction, Tishman Speyer, and Zigg Capital. With its fresh cash injection and slew of strategic investors in place, OpenSpace said that it’s well positioned to scale its operations and develop new computer vision-powered tools.
How it works
OpenSpace’s software is compatible with the $800 Garmin VIRB 360 camera, which builders or site managers strap to their hard hats to document the development of a site as it evolves. OpenSpace captures all the imagery and uploads it to the cloud, where it taps computer vision and machine intelligence to organize the photos, stitch them together, and map them to project plans — all while automatically identifying objects such as windows and molding.
Above: Then and now: OpenSpace comparing how a construction job has progressed
There are a number of use cases for this technology, one being that it enables remote stakeholders to check on the progress through virtual site tours. But at its core, OpenSpace is all about keeping a digital record of projects as they progress, and presenting them in what OpenSpace calls “Google Street View-style documentation.” To use another somewhat crude analogy, it’s kind of like the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, but for construction projects. This evidence can then be used to resolve conflicts, or enable managers to track multiple projects remotely without being on site.
Founded in 2017, San Francisco-based OpenSpace said that i