Back in October we wrote about Vannevar Technology, a spin-off company from Google[x], which was developing a new technology for the AEC industry that could revolutionize the way buildings are designed, built and maintained. The collaborative design software which is currently being developed and tested will reportedly enable sustainable and environmentally-friendly buildings to be designed and constructed at greatly reduced costs and delivery times. In addition to raising $8 million in Series A financing from the likes of DFJ, Borealis Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures, the startup company has silently changed its name from Vannevar Technology to Flux. (You can read our previous blog post on Vannevar Technology here.)
Thanks to a press release issued yesterday along with various news stories announcing the funding from the venture capital firms mentioned above, we also got a little more insight into how the new software platform will work. According to Flux’s website, flux.io, the company is “developing a methodology capable of managing the full complexity of designing site-adapted, high-performance, and healthy buildings. The process starts by constructing a relationship graph between the key building systems driven by owners’ business objectives. By powering the graph with data and algorithms, the system allows building owners to trade-off upfront construction cost with marketability, life-cycle operating cost, occupant experience, and environmental impact.”
Based on this info it appears that at least some of our earlier speculation as to what this new industry-transforming technology would be was correct. It almost certainly will combine Building Information Modeling (BIM) with big data and analytics in order to design more durable and sustainable building while at the same time reducing carbon emissions created during the construction phase and throughout the life cycle of a building. Sadly, no mention of incorporating Augmented Reality (AR) like we theorized about back in October but that doesn’t rule it out since specific details on the final product are pretty scarce. Since its billing itself as a collaborative design software it’s probably safe to assume that the technology will incorporate cloud computing allowing stakeholders including architects, owners, developers, contractors and engineers to access the software in order to provide input and make changes to the design of a structure.
Doing a little internet research I discovered a number of patent applications with the co-founders of Flux listed as inventors along with other Google personnel. The patent applications were for things like Certification controls for a structure design, analysis, and implementation system, System and methods for structure design, analysis, and implementation, User certification in a structure design, analysis, and implementation system, System and methods facilitating interfacing with a structure design and development process and Systems and methods for collaborative design, analysis and implementation of structures.
I’m not sure what, if any, of these systems and methods will be part of the final product but I’m going to guess we are looking at a cloud-based software application that uses big data along with BIM and advanced analytics design energy efficient, sustainable buildings and allows users to make changes to the design and building systems incorporated based on established certification controls for a particular uses such as an architect, developer or engineer.
Oddly, none of the news reports that came out yesterday mentioned the name change from Vannevar Technology to Flux or the reasoning behind it. There was also no mention of the “Genie” codename that the project was given when it was first being developed at Google[x]. Up until yesterday the Vannevar Technology website, vannevartech.com, was still up and running but the domain name now redirects to the flux.io website. Vannevar Tech’s Twitter account @vannevartech sent out a Tweet on May 2nd stating “We will no longer be tweeting here. Please join us at @flux_io!” and all previous Tweets were moved to the new account.
We will no longer be tweeting here. Please join us at @flux_io !
— Vannevar Technology (@vannevartech) May 3, 2014
Flux is still developing, tweaking and refining their software by testing it on “a few select projects this year”. It looks like their product could be publicly available sometime early in 2015 so we still have a few months to wait out to see if this new technology can deliver on the company’s mission “to spread design knowledge and improve the accessibility of design tools in order to help meet the world’s demand for durable, sustainable buildings.”