US construction software darling Bluebeam has exciting new AI features in upcoming new product launches in April 2024. The two new AI features currently in the works will accelerate Bluebeam workflows for millions of users working in AEC/O worldwide.
AI and Bluebeam
Bluebeam’s flagship product, Bluebeam Revu, has benefitted from investments in AI for over a decade. The new AI features will enhance existing features like visual search, text recognition, and batch processing. This will significantly increase productivity, improve problem-solving, and automate repetitive tasks for AEC professionals.
Frank Sarno, VP of Construction Process and Technology at Adolfson & Peterson Construction said:
For more than 20 years, Bluebeam has pioneered paperless transformation for many in the AEC industry, fundamentally changing how teams create, collaborate, and communicate information. Today, demand for new and innovative ways of designing and building is accelerating. The industry is being asked to deliver higher quality work faster, more sustainably, and at a lower cost. Through their commitment to innovation, involving their customers in the process, and solving real-world challenges, Bluebeam is helping companies like ours meet these demands.
Bluebeam’s latest product release, planned for April 2024, will include two new AI-enhanced features. Here are some details.
New AI Features
Auto Align for drawing overlays and comparisons in Revu 21.
The company writes: “Auto Align will reduce the tedious, error-prone steps of manually aligning three points on each drawing revision, so users can understand the differences between them faster. Bluebeam customers currently use the Overlay and Compare features more than five million times a year. While powerful, the process takes several clicks and up to two minutes per drawing. With the Auto Align option and a revamped feature interface, this can be streamlined to as little as 15 seconds, helping users understand the differences up to 80 percent faster.”
Automatic title block recognition when importing drawings to Bluebeam Cloud.
The company writes: “The title block of a drawing holds valuable information that users shouldn’t have to waste time or risk mistakes entering manually. Aided by AI, Bluebeam Cloud instantly extracts the key drawing information as metadata that can be leveraged throughout the project, saving time and increasing accuracy.”
New Bluebeam Labs
Bluebeam distinguishes itself in the AEC/O software industry by having one of the most passionate user bases which help shape the future of the software through their high degree of engagement. To elevate this further, the Nemetschek daughter company is creating Bluebeam Labs.
Bluebeam Labs is aimed at involving customers in the company’s development of new solutions, the cloud-based, collaborative workspace will offer users the ability to validate new ideas and technologies before they are launched and made available to the whole market.
“We believe that AI should be about pragmatic innovation that enhances the customer experience, productivity and value they get from Bluebeam,” said Usman Shuja, CEO of Bluebeam. “Through Bluebeam Labs, we invite customers into our innovation process earlier, to co-create our solutions with much more engagement and feedback. This is how we’ll continue to lead the industry for many years to come.”
New 3D Drawings from Labs
Bluebeam Labs has launched 3D Drawings, its first AI-based feature. This technology uses artificial intelligence to position hundreds of 2D drawings in 3D space, creating high-quality 3D visualization. To sign up for the waitlist and test this feature, visit www.bluebeam.com/Bluebeam-Labs.
Architosh Commentary and Analysis
Nemetschek’s Bluebeam was once a very shiny light in the AEC software industry. But it has dimmed somewhat over the years. Their transition to the cloud has been both confusing and slow, amongst a sea of serious competition from the likes of Procore and Autodesk. At one time, we interviewed Sean Flaherty, then Chief Strategy Officer of Nemetschek, about Bluebeam’s technology becoming the centerpiece of a CDE (common data environment) and single-source of truth platform for the Nemetschek Group’s products. (see: Architosh, “Architosh Exclusive—Nemetschek Group Unveils Its CDE Strategy with Bluebeam Technology at its Core,” 13 Dec, 2017). That initiative has never taken shape as planned.
Then, two years after hearing of its CDE strategy, Bluebeam decided to drop the Mac platform to focus its efforts on the cloud. The decision didn’t come lightly, the company said. But the promise to its Mac users that the cloud solutions coming would soon solve their needs has stretched out and out. Within one year of deciding to drop the Mac platform, Apple unveiled Apple Silicon for its Mac computers, in the fall of 2020. Flash forward to today, and Apple’s decision to design ARM-based custom silicon for its Mac computers is impacting the entire computer industry. Bluebeam dropped the Mac, and then the Mac nearly doubled its market share in the United States in three years, and IDC expects further double-digit acceleration. To say it is “not a good look” for Bluebeam is putting it mildly. Mac-based AEC professionals have been left behind despite their world-leading hardware.
Now a wave of Qualcomm-designed custom ARM-based chips will power next-generation Windows laptops starting this year. They will rival Apple’s market-crushing MacBook laptops, and they will have features that are ideal for construction job sites (long battery life, just one of them). But Revu is built for Intel X86. Getting it ready for Windows on ARM will take some work; it will then not be too much work to bring it to Mac on ARM (aka macOS on Apple Silicon).
At this point, it is unclear what “ARM plans” Bluebeam may have. Will they eventually support Microsoft Surface computers? Will they support the Mac-rivaling new ARM laptops running Windows? Or how about just supporting Mac computers again natively? Apple’s M3 is currently the fastest single-core chip on the planet, and its laptops sip energy compared to those powered by AMD and Intel. The best computers in the world cannot be found on construction job sites running a de facto standard in Bluebeam Revu. When best-in-breed hardware cannot match up with best-in-breed software, a strategic mistake takes place, market dynamics lead to inefficiency (efficiency not captured), and customers and end-users lose.