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Start the New Year with the latest software updates and new technologies that sound like sci-fi, but are being developed today: mind-controlled cars, self-driving trucks and infrastructure monitoring from outer space.


FLUX Introduces Collaboration Tools for Architecture and Construction Industry
Flux Factory, Inc. just released its first product, Flux, a cloud-based collaboration service for architects, engineers and contractors to efficiently manage data exchange. Born out of the Google X Lab, Flux was created to drive sustainability and scalability in a rapidly urbanizing world. Called the "google translator of the digital design world," Flux synchronizes data across different tools without tedious file transfers and data conversions creating a seamless project flow. Each team can choose the best design or analysis tool for the task, without concern for compatibility issues. Flux currently works with Grasshopper, Excel and Dynamo. Plugins for Revit, AutoCAD, 3ds Max and SketchUp are targeted for release in early 2016.

COBRA Moves to Next-Gen Mobile Field Data Capture
Cobra_Logo (PRNewsFoto/ProTechnology) COBRA Contractors Software is partnering with ProTechnology's JetTrac to integrate next-gen mobile data capture solutions within COBRA's suite of business management mobile data capture solutions designed for the specialty trades, including electrical, plumbing, HVAC/mechanical and low-voltage contractors. Used for both short-term service jobs and long-term construction projects, Mobile Forms replace paper forms by capturing job data on Android phones, iPhones and iPads, and wirelessly transmitting the data directly into COBRA. Current deployments include Mobile Field Sheet, Mobile Time Sheet and Project Insights, with Mobile Purchase Orders and Mobile Inventory Count Sheets being released soon.

Log Time and Attendance with NCheck Bio Attendance Biometric Software
NCheck BioNCheck Bio Attendance 3.0 from Neurotechnology enables mobile or onsite time and attendance logging using fingerprint or face biometrics with GPS and offline/online sync using Windows PCs and Android devices. The latest version supports remote workers, enables shift logging and provides user group reporting. Significant enhancements and features include new GPS logging capabilities, database synchronization, user grouping functionality, and shift support and attendance planning.

PlanGrid Launches Sheet Compare
PlanGridSheetCompareWith PlanGrid's Sheet Compare, users can overlay multiple construction plans to perform faster constructability reviews. Sheet Compare helps users identify clashes between different construction disciplines before anything is built. The PlanGrid cloud-based construction document collaboration platform allows plans and markups to be instantaneously shared with everyone on a construction project from their desktop or mobile devices across all of their project plans, specs, photos, RFIs and punchlists. Sheet Compare is available as an update to PlanGrid on iOS devices.

Perform Risk Analysis with Barbecana’s Full Monte
Barbecana full_monteBarbecana’s Full Monte Schedule Risk Analysis software calculates the range of probable dates for every single activity/milestone in the project in a single analysis and identifies all potential critical paths through the project. Sensitivity Analysis helps identify key areas to reduce uncertainty in deliverable outcomes. The new Full Monte 2016 spreadsheet interface simplifies data entry, supports inheritance through the project structure and allows uncertainty data to be entered/updated in standard Microsoft Project views. New features include resource rate uncertainty, analysis of historical estimates, Joint Confidence Limit (JCL) scatter graphs and enhanced reports.

Penta Introduces Labor Cost and Productivity Analytics
Penta Labor Cost ProductivityLabor Cost and Productivity Analytics is a new construction business intelligence tool that allows construction firms to easily conduct self-service analysis of labor productivity and labor cost information contained within PENTA cost codes. Users can analyze productivity factors, labor efficiency index, composite labor rate, earned hours, percent complete installed, estimates, forecasts, and projected variances for hours, units and cost amounts. Labor Cost and Productivity Analytics is applicable for users in a variety of roles and is accessed from PENTA Role-Based Workbenches.


Tekla Transitions to Trimble Brand
Tekla Corporation is now integrated into the Trimble brand. Trimble acquired Tekla in 2011 and the rebranding reflects both the evolution of Trimble as well as its vision for the future. With an open approach to BIM, the name change reflects the combined companies' strong commitment to customers—providing the opportunity to more tightly connect Tekla software to Trimble's broad portfolio of design-build-operate solutions. Tekla products will still be referred to as Tekla Structures, Tekla Structural Designer, Tekla BIMSight, Tekla Tedds, Tekla Field3D and Tekla Civil.


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Video & Cool Stuff

Bridgit Takes Top Prize at Google Demo Day
Bridgit walked away with the Judges Prize at Google for Entrepreneur’s inaugural Demo Day: Women’s Edition. The event recognizes female-founded startups that are raising venture capital between $1 million and $5 million. Bridgit competed with 450 entrepreneurs from more than 40 countries to be one of 11 finalists that made a pitch to the judges in Silicon Valley. The judges cited Bridgit’s strong automated sales approach and lead generation and clean go-to market approach. Lauren Lake and Mallorie Brodie, co-founders of the Canadian-based Bridgit, accepted the award. Watch their pitch and Q&A with the judges.

Thyssenkrupp Completes Manufacturing and Technology Park

Thyssenkrupp Elevator TowerThyssenkrupp Elevator’s state-of-the-art manufacturing and technology park has been completed in Neuhausen, Germany. The project includes modernization of the production lines and the construction of an advanced sales and customer center. The technology park represents a state-of-the-art elevator innovation center with more than 1,500 employees. In the spirit of the holiday season, Thyssenkrupp transformed its test tower in Rottweil, Germany into the tallest candle in the world.
Robot Tamer
Construction Dive reports on the development of Quipt, which makes interaction between industrial robots and people safer and easier to use in construction settings. The human-robot communication is based on body language that gives industrial robots spatial awareness and behaviors.

Mind-Controlled Cars and Self-Driving Trucks
Chinese researchers at Nankai University have developed a car driven by brainpower, according to The Washington Post. The “driver” wears equipment that reads brain signals to make the car go forward, backward and stop. Forbes Magazine reports in “Self-Driving Trucks Could Rewrite the Rules for Transporting Freight,” that driver-free trucks and locomotives will soon change the economics of shipping. Reporters Jason Kuehn and Juergen Reiner said, “As technology companies develop driverless cars, the freight industry is working on the equivalent for trucks and trains…Research and development is much further along in the automation of trucking than in freight rail because trucking is more labor intensive and the economic benefits of automation greater.” The article notes that automated off-road trucks are already in use in mines, military bases and container terminals. Several companies in the United States and Europe are testing driverless trucks. There's no mention of construction use, but the industry likely won’t be far behind.

Global eTraining Releases SketchUp Basics
get-logo-298x300Available on the Global eTraining platform, SketchUp Basics is the first in a series of courses to provide comprehensive training in the use of Trimble® SketchUp 3-D modeling computer program for architectural, interior design, civil and mechanical engineering, film and video game design. Created in partnership with EpicBIM, SketchUp Basics covers setup, user interface and getting comfortable with the different drawing tools.

Monitor At-Risk Infrastructure from Space
Gizmodo reports that the European Space Agency (ESA) and the University of Nottingham are working on a new project to use satellites to monitor aging, at-risk infrastructure. Global Construction Review reported that the ESA project may receive money from the China Railway Group, which is interested in using the technology to monitor the health of its bridges from space. Sensors installed on the bridge provide information on how much a bridge is deforming using GPS technology.

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