Residential Design Trends

The recent AIA Home Design Trends Survey asked more than 500 residential architects what they thought would be the most significant home design elements over the next ten years. Here are their Top 10 responses.

Architects tend to think about custom homes, not the great mass of other housing options; something to remember when interpreting the findings.

Architects tend to think about custom homes, not the great mass of other housing options; something to remember when interpreting the findings.

1 Technological integration becoming more prevalent, with both dedicated support for personal devices, along with automated controls for temperature, security and lighting

2 Increased consumer awareness about environmental health issues leading to more widespread use of low or no volatile organic compounds for paint and composite wood, natural fiber upholstery, carpets without polyvinyl chloride backing and air purification systems

3 Growing demand for design strategies that strengthen homes against natural disasters including elevating residences, windows with impact glazing, dedicated safe rooms and backup power generation

4 Increasing use of energy-efficient and other sustainable design elements and products such as solar panels, water reclamation systems and tankless water heaters

5 Aging-in-place and universal design elements to accommodate an aging population including wider hallways, added handrails and one-level living spaces

6 Kitchens serving as focal point of the home highlighted by open design concepts

7 Heavy emphasis and investment in outdoor living spaces

8 Need for space devoted to home offices reflecting changing work patterns

9 Infill development promoting smaller, better designed homes

10 Strong preference for urban lifestyle characteristics resulting in higher-density development that provide additional amenities to residents

Comment: When planning your marketing strategy, remember that this is what AIA members are thinking about, and that actual demand is influenced by developers, consumers, codes, remodeling of existing housing stock, and other forces. 

Source: AIA Press Release 2016-01-13.


Shortage of Architects?

A recent opinion piece in Wall Street Journal describes a drop of enrollment in architectural schools and predict dire consequences for the construction industry. A drop in enrollment certainly concerns the essay's author, an academic.  Even if the decline in enrollments leads to a decline in registered architects, however, I doubt there will be much impact on the construction industry.
From Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture
Here is why:

1. It is a global market. Plenty of architectural talent around world able to do the drawing and "desk" work without meeting client or seeing site.

2. Perhaps the much touted productivity gains of CAD have become a reality.

3. Much of the work of architecture does not require a registered architect. The person I know that is most efficient at producing a set of construction drawings has a community college degree. The best spec writer I know has an English lit degree.

4. Constructors, developers, engineers, construction managers, and other professionals are taking on "architectural" roles.

5. Manufacturers and contractors are increasingly taking on delegated design and design build responsibility.

6. Many architectural firms have principals that are not architects. Given the complexity of contemporary practice, the management suite can be shared with lawyers, accountants, engineers, interior designer, and individuals that came up through the trades.

7. For most of career, it was widely assumed that the schools of architecture were producing more graduates than required by the profession. A short term correction will not pose a problem.

Still, the trend illustrates a new reality of building product marketing - the market is increasingly complex. Product decision makers do not all have AIA or RA after their names.

NIBS Report Identify Industry Priorities

National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) has released a report, “Moving Forward: Findings and Recommendations from the Consultative Council,” outlining three key priorities for the building industry:

1. labor force: Industry professionals are aging and retiring, required skills are changing, and we underestimate the value of vocational training.

Opportunity for Building Product Manufacturers:
1. Introduce systems that require less labor or less specialized skills.
2. Invest in robotics or move processes from field into factories
3. Create and support career training programs.
4. Show young people how you offer and support a career path in the trades.

2. resilient design: I have been predicting this as the "next new thing" in construction. This category is broad and includes, in my opinion, extreme weather, fire and fire storm, earthquake, climate change, violence and civil unrest, dependence on fragile infrastructure, etc.

Opportunities for Building Product Manufactures:
1. Make your own infrastructure more resilient.
2. Develop rapid response capabilities to move products and skills to needed locations.
3. Identify which of your products can contribute to improved building resilience.
4. Develop new products that offer improved resilience.
5. Train sales team to address resilience concerns of customers.

3 code enforcement: The report encourages federal agencies to work with industry to try to make sense of an increasing number of codes and the disconnect between code making and code enforcing.

Opportunities for Building Product Manufactures:
1. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.
2. Help your customers make sense of the increasing complexity of codes and standards.

Download the report here, than contact me to discuss how you can use the findings to protect your business from risk and take advantage of new opportunities.

Michael Chusid, RA FCSI CCS
+1 818 219 4937 

Cruise Ships: a Building Product Market

It could be time for you to put to sea as the cruise ship industry continues to grow. From 2015 to 2016, 17 more new cruise ships will come online, with more to follow.
Many of these are gigantic vessels capable of carrying thousands of passengers plus crew, dwarfing existing craft.
It is probable that vessels will grow in size until they are better compared to small cities or at-sea resort towns that do not put into port but will be tended by smaller ships and aircraft landing on the top deck.

The cost of the structural, motive, and infrastructure systems of these vessels is enormous, and require innovative construction techniques such as this covered dry dock.

The investment in facades, furnishings, lighting, decor, equipment, elevators, and other "building products" will be similarly titanic. Many are replete with shopping, theaters, dining, fitness facilities, and accommodations that would make a Las Vegas hotel seem modest in comparison.

More, older ships will be refurbished to compete.

While there will always be cramped interior cabins and crew quarters, there is also a focus is on elegant suites for those with the resources.

One reason for this tread is that rising sea levels make investment in coastal resorts a risky proposition.  This accounts for the interest in floating platforms that are not necessarily designed for cruising. As population distributions shift in response to global warming, the platform can be towed to more attractive locations.

Beyond the recreational market, plans -- both serious and theoretical -- are underway for floating cities. Part of the appeal is the perception that these private islands are havens from social unrest, regulations, ecological apocalypse, and taxation.

At the (somewhat) smaller end of the spectrum, many personal yachts are now being supersized, as this recent design by Zaha Hadid suggests.

Her's is not the only A/E/C firms have entered the market. They also are active in the development of ports and landside facilities in emerging markets and to accommodate larger ships.

Some terminals will become destinations in their own right with profound implications for the future of travel, conventions, business meetings, and more.


Contrary to the maxim, a rising tide does not float all ships, only the businesses that are prepared.

This is a competitive global market. Many existing architectural products will require modification (or at least additional testing) to prove seaworthy. The decision making process, buyer behavior, contractual and legal implications, and many other business factors are different than land based construction.

Call me to discuss your strategy launching into this growth market. 

Michael Chusid
+1 818 219 4937

Good News about Guide Specifications

The quality of guide specifications published by building product manufacturers has improved significantly. I made a survey of 200 guide specifications in the mid-1980s and found that more than half of them were not in compliance with formats and principles of the Construction Specifications Institute. Now, in contrast, the overwhelming majority of guide specs are in substantial compliance with CSI guidelines.

Several factors have contributed to the improvement, including:
  • More architects and engineers have been trained and even certified in CSI formats and principle, and they have demanded better specs for the products they want to use.
  • Better trained specifiers also means that manufacturers have more consultants they can turn to for assistance in writing specs.
  • There are now more specification publishers, including Arcat, Arcom, BSD, E-Spec and others, that encourage manufacturers to follow CSI formats and principles.
I am gratified to see the improvement, as I have been proselytizing manufacturers for over 30 years -- conducting specification training programs, writing articles, and writing specs for more manufacturers than I can remember.

There is still room for improvement, of course. I recently saw a guide spec that was so poorly written that the manufacturer's misspelled its own name!  This bad example, however, cause me to reflect on how much the industry has improved.  And that is good news for all of us.

Construction Chart Book, 5th Ed.

The Construction Chart Book: The US Construction Industry and Its Workers 5th Edition, (2013), a free download, is a valuable resource for building product executives. Published by The Center for Construction Research and Training*, it is a trove of information about construction industry employment demographics and trends. While most useful, perhaps, for economists, insurance companies, safety officers, and policy makers, it contains nuggets that can help you digest new product opportunities and paths to market.

Consider the following from the Main Findings of the report, with my comments:

About 80% of construction payroll establishments had 1 to 9 employees.
You surely don't have time to send sales reps to these small firms, so your marketing communication or distributors better find a way to reach them.

About 12% of construction firms used day laborers; 22% of employer firms had no full-time employees on their payroll, and 8% hired temporary workers through temporary agencies.
With a transient work force, you better support your customer by offering products that are simple to use and hard to screw up, and training programs that can be given quickly on the job site.

Construction employment is expected to grow by 1.84 million wage-and-salary jobs, or 33%, between 2010 and 2020, more than double the 14% growth rate projected for the overall economy.
Where will all those new employees come from? Beyond normal efforts to build brand awareness among newcomers to the industry, manufacturers should also consider ways to recruit the new work force by training them and creating networks to connect trained installers to potential employers among your customer base. I wonder, however, what effect robotics and construction automation will have on this trend; perhaps not much within 5 years... but after that?

About 2 million construction workers in 2010 were born in foreign countries.
What can you do to transfer brand loyalty across borders?

More than 75% of Hispanic construction workers were born outside the United States.
Your product labels, installation instructions, advertising, and field representatives may need to be bilingual.

Between 1985 and 2010, the average age of construction workers jumped from 36.0 to 41.5 years old.
At some point, the trend will reverse. Are you able to communicate with digital natives?

Union members in construction have advantages in educational attainment, wage and fringe benefits, training, and longer employment tenures, compared with non-union workers.

Look for opportunities to partner with unions for training, etc.

The number of fatal injuries in construction dropped to 802 in 2010 from the peak of 1,297 in 2006. The decrease in recent years was mainly due to the decline in construction employment during the economic downturn.
In other words, fatalities haven't significantly decreased. Everyone in our industry has a moral obligation to improve safety.  How can your product, its packaging, the tools required to install it, etc, create a safer workplace? Make the contractor's chief safety officer your ally.

In 2010, overexertion in lifting caused 38% of the work-related musculoskeletal disorders among construction workers.
Lighter weight material? Improved packaging? Simplified lifting and installation procedures? These are important product enhancements.

* Published by CPWR – The Center for Construction Research and Training, produced with support from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health grant number OH009762.

Learning from Lighting

Even if you do not make lighting products, any building product manufacturer can learn something from these excerpts from this article:
Lighting industry business leaders reflect on
market evolutions and product innovation.

In 1986, lighting designers and specifiers working on a job reached over their drawing boards and pulled a manufacturer's 4-inch binder off the shelf, filled with a thousand cut sheets of product details. If the date on the page was more than a year old, the designer would have to call their local rep to verify the technical data. The rep would then call the factory to check the information. It could be days before the lighting designer received the information that they were looking for, a process that could be repated multiple times until the job was complete.

...there was often little time available to explore different design options and alternative product selections. Today, the situation is somewhat reversed and while the design/buid process is faster and more integrated, which provides more access to product information, there is still a lot of pressure to make timely product selections that maintain the projects integrity.

I am struck by the fact that many younger lighting designers have never laid a hand on a pencil or a piece of paper in their design work. Their world is on of electronic design and calculation tools.

It used to take lighting manufacturers three to four years to develop new products. It wasn't urgent to speed to market because products were around for 20 to 30 ears. Today, if you took the same amount of time, you would miss the entire product life cycle.

Since light sources can now last upwards of 50,000 to 60,000 hours... there is an extreme amount of pressure on winning bids because it could very well be four times as long until a building owner considers lighting renovations.

...few borders remain. Solid-state technology is the primary force behind a new cycle of global industry consolidation, and this is opening up world markets to small and large companies alike. Voltage differences, country to country, are no longer an issue.

New lighting companies are being formed, and grown, often with the intent of being primed for acquisition to a larger conglomerate.  ...As companies consolidate around the world, it will actually result in innovation and new lighting technologies reaching [the] market even faster.

You must have an international perspective on product development and the supply chain to be competitive.

Douglass Baillie
Architectural Lighting MagazinePublication date: December 1, 2011

Posts I am NOT going to write

As I plan on reducing the frequency of my posts to this blog, here are a few of the topics I am no longer planning to write about:

"The Threat to Smaller Firms", Building Design and Construction magazine reports in its 2012-Feb issue, is that ""the top 10 firms in any building category -- hospitals, higher ed, K-12, government buildings -- ...control half or more of the total market share", growing mostly through mergers and acquisition. How will this impact your marketing strategy?

The wall between building design and building operation is crumbling, thanks to more focus on building commissioning as an environmental strategy. The Building Commissioning Association has released Best Practices in Commissioning New Construction (PDF) and it is recommended reading. It may inspire new opportunities and sales influencers.

American with Disabilities (ADA) Standards, issued in 2010, have become mandatory as of this year. How will they affect your business? Here are some ideas from the magazine:
"Alternative Water Source Use is Now Mainstream" says Plumbing Systems and Design in 2011-Nov issue. The article sites graywater systems, reclaimed (recycled) water systems, rainwater catchment, and on-site treatment of non-potable water as concepts now written into building codes. This will affect the use of building products from the roof to underground utilities. The same issue discusses the goal of Net Zero Water utilization in buildings.

Dodge Momentum Index

Momentum Index
The Dodge Momentum Index is a new 12-month leading indicator of construction spending for nonresidential buildings. Its data is derived from first-issued planning reports in the United States–McGraw-Hill Construction’s Dodge Reports. Because projects in planning may proceed architect selection, it is an earlier indicator of trends than is the AIA Architectural Billing Index.

While the index now predicts an upturn in construction sometime next year, its steady decline throughout 2011 and the first quarter of 2012 suggests that there will be continued stress in the industry in the short-term future.

Green Certifications Continue to Grow

The General Services Administration (GSA) released its review of the Green Building Certification Systems. Three certification systems passed GSA screening criteria: Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes, U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), and the International Living Building Challenge.

Five years ago, only LEED passed the screening process. In its most recent review, GSA determined Green Globes best advanced federal policies in new buildings and recommended LEED for existing buildings. (From Environmental Building & Design)
Marketing the sustainability of your building products keeps getting more complicated. A few years ago, it was sufficient for many manufacturers to identify how their products contributed to LEED credits. Now, there are multiple LEED programs and each of them have an increased number of possible credits.

As indicated above, one now has to as understand Green Globes and the Living Building Challenge to pursue Government work. And this is on top of the new International Green Construction CodeISO 14000 certifications, and a multitude of product certification programs.

Perhaps they green certification programs are like the natural systems they strive to protect; they keep growing. Sometimes it feels like you need a weed whacker to blaze a path through them. But if you account for them in your strategic plan and marketing strategy, green certification programs can also act as fertilizer to support the growth of your business.

Photos - Unsullied by Humans?

As a general rule (and with notable exceptions), people have not been shown in architectural photos. It now appears we may be on the cusp of a new paradigm where it is becoming fashionable to include humans.
The editor-in-chief of Architectural Record, Cathleen McGuigan, seems to be calling for this in her "Editor's Letter" in the January 2012 issue. Referring to the "giants of post-World War II architectural photography," she says,
"The drama in their photos came from the brilliant use of light and shadow in images of sweeping grandeur or of minute details.... Their photos glorified majestic exteriors and serene interiors, unsullied by human use.

"Yet in keeping with a shift in 21st-century architectural values, where buildings are seen not so much as idealized sculptural objects* but as part of the fabric of places, photography, too, is changing. Documenting architecture is often less pristine these days... photos are alive with the pulse of real places." 
Indeed, the cover photo of the issue, of a school, not only shows students in front of the building, it also shows them reflected in the facade of the building -- becoming part of the architecture. (See photo above.)

While the issue's five articles about museums show few people and then only for visual scale, its several articles about schools are full of students actively using their facilities.

More, some advertisers seem to feel that populating photos in their ads can increase viewer empathy or interest. 

If you are purchasing photographs or photographic services, hedge your bets by getting images with and without people whenever appropriate.

* Who is she fooling about architecture not being about "idealized sculptural objects"? Her magazine is full of architectural sculpture and frequently champions the latest style without regard for practicality or function. But this is not a blog of architectural criticism, so I refrain from further comment.

Hanley Wood Marketing Conference

Please join Michael Chusid in attending this marketing conference for building product manufacturers:
Hanley Wood Foundations 2011
American Construction and Design Conference 
September 21 and 22 in Chicago

We know how challenging the past few years have been. The shifting economy, changing consumer attitudes, new forms of media and marketing—they’ve likely all been on your mind. Those are the things we kept in mind when we put together this conference.

When you join us at Foundations 2011, you’ll get information to help increase your marketing efficiency, generate more leads, and deal with changing attitudes. And hopefully put your mind at ease.

Registration is free and by invitation only, so contact your Hanley Wood representative, then reserve your spot today. Register now
Wednesday, Sept. 21
3 p.m. Welcome

3:05 p.m. The New Now: Marketing and Media for Construction
In these changing times, many building-product marketers have taken the opportunity to explore and refine their marketing methods. Hanley Wood CEO Frank Anton reveals the marketing trends and best practices uncovered by a recent proprietary independent-market-research study conducted by Hanley Wood.
4 p.m. State of the Economy: Commercial Building Industry
In late 2010, the commercial-building industry was showing some positive momentum. American Institute of Architects (AIA) Chief Economist Kermit Baker explores the current state and what’s ahead.
4:45 p.m. State of the Economy: Residential Building Industry
As the U.S. economy shows signs of rebounding, will the residential housing market follow suit? Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, discusses events impacting the industry and offers his forecast.
5:30 p.m. Hanley Wood Windy City Happy Hour

Thursday, Sept. 22

8 a.m. Shifting From the Old Model of Media and Marketing to the New
Bob Garfield is a prominent commentator and analyst of advertising and marketing. His new Ad Age column, Listenomics, explores 21st-century marketing and media, and he’ll share insights on making the move to a new marketing model.
9:10 a.m. Housing 360: Insight Into Home Ownership
According to the headlines, consumer attitudes and ideas about home ownership and remodeling have changed dramatically. Discover what 3,000 diverse consumers disclosed about home ownership, renting, and remodeling in this proprietary Hanley Wood survey, presented by Kent Colton, senior fellow at the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. 
10:15 a.m. What’s New: Design Trends
What’s the next big thing in design? Ned Cramer, editorial director of the Hanley Wood commercial design group, and Boyce Thompson, editorial director of the residential new construction group at Hanley Wood, present the latest trends popping up in the commercial and residential design arenas, and explain why they’re likely to show staying power.
11:15 a.m. What’s Hot? What’s Not?
Hanley Wood Market Intelligence is the housing industry's leading independent housing research source. Jonathan Smoke, executive director of research, provides an overview of hot (and not-so-hot) housing markets.
12:15 p.m. Closing Comments

12:30 p.m. Lunch and Adjourn

Underestimating our Future

Michael Chusid will be a keynote speaker at the CSI West Region Conference to be held in Spring 2012. His presentation will be during a Vendor Appreciation Luncheon. With both design professionals and sales reps in attendance, any guess who picks up the bar bill?

Here is the write-up on announcing the event:

Underestimating our Future

It's been said, "We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten." (Bill Gates) With that in mind, Michael Chusid, RA, FCSI, CCS, ACI, CWA, SCIP, EIEIO*, fearlessly prognosticates a decade into the future to help us reimagine the next few years. He interprets auguries about building design and construction, material science and product trends, and whether sales reps and specifiers will, at last, find true love and commitment with each other.

Michael is author or ghost writer of over two hundred published articles about architecture, building products and marketing, and publisher of As president of Chusid Associates (, the leading marketing and technical consultant to the building product industry, he has seen untold numbers of innovations crash and burn, yet is adamant that his predictions will be just as wrong as those of anyone else. 
While the tone is lighthearted, the topic is crucial for construction industry professionals in a changing market.

* For those uninitiated, the author is parodying the CSI practice of making liberal use of professional credentials following names. EIEIO is a group for individuals with more than five sets of initials after their name.

Red Listed Products

Living Building Challenge Version 2
Acceptance is growing for a "Red List" of materials that are considered environmentally hazardous. The Red List, created by Living Building Challenge, precludes usage of the following:
  • Asbestos
  • Cadmium
  • Chlorinated Polyethylene and Chlorosulfonated Polyethlene
  • Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
  • Chloroprene (Neoprene)
  • Formaldehyde
  • Halogenated Flame Retardants
  • Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Petrochemical Fertilizers and Pesticides
  • Phthalates
  • Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)
  • Wood treatments containing creosote, arsenic or pentachlorophenol
These compounds are found in many building materials; finding and adopting suitable alternatives will require a significant investment for many manufacturers.

The investment may be worthwhile, however, since the number of developers prohibiting Red List materials is increasing. For example, Google is among organizations that have banned the use of Red List products. Google is alleged to be building facilities at the rate of 40,000 sq. ft. a week.

Anthony Ravitz, Google’s project coordinator for real estate and workplace services, says the firm's decision is based on an economic analysis of the true costs of using a material, including the health and vitality of its employees and avoiding expensive claims for illness due to exposure to potentially dangerous materials. He calls upon manufacturers to provide better transparency about what is in their products, saying, “We don’t have complete information about what’s in our products. It’s not readily available. Until we have that, it will be difficult to make the best decisions.”

B2B Social Media Infographic

Check out this great infographic about the rise of social media use by B2B companies. A mix of exciting and disturbing information. (Only 50% of B2B marketers analyze metrics? Really? That's like saying only 50% of pilots check the fuel gauge!) Overall, shows evidence of an increasing trend throughout the B2B (business-to-business) world, which makes this useful information if you are trying to justify increased social media spending at your company.

[h/t Socialnomics]

Green Certifications Consolidate

According to Environmental Building News, the number of green product certifications is large and growing--perhaps 100 so far in the U.S. alone. They have published a special report, "Green Building Product Certifications," to provide guidance to someone trying to navigate this web of agencies and labels.

As occurs in most market segments as they mature, small organizations are starting to be consolidated into larger organizations.

Evidence that this is occurring in the sustainable construction field are two recent acquisitions by UL Environment, a division of Underwriters Laboratories

UL announced this week that it acquired Air Quality Sciences and its certifying body, Greenguard Environmental Institute. Their Greenguard label is relied upon as evidence that a product has been tested to meet indoor air quality emission standards. In August 2010, UL acquired Canada’s EcoLogo, one of the oldest eco-labels in the field.

Gigabyte-Sized Photos add interest to website

A new digital photographic technique has exciting potential for building product presentations, websites, and social media.

Back in the days of film photography, I would take a dozen or more overlapping photos of a scenic panorama, then cut and paste individual snapshots together to show the entire vista. Software like Photoshop made the job easier as one could "stitch" images together digitally, even automatically. Recent advances take this a step further, making it simple to stitch together dozens of images. The composite files, which can contain gigabytes of information, capture an awesome amount of detail.

For example, this image of the most recent presidential inauguration is made up of 220 separate exposures. The composite image size is 59,783 X 24,658 pixels or 1,474 megapixels.

While an ordinary camera with a wide angle lens could capture the same view, it would not allow the viewer to zoom in to see details like the following:
When viewed online, one can see an amazing amount of visual information. In addition to the president, one can pan and zoom in to see thousands of individuals and details of Washington. For example, these architectural details are just below the dome of the Capitol:
If you have ever used Google Earth or the satellite or street views on Google Maps, you already know how powerful composite images can be. What is new is that an inexpensive device from Gigapan Systems now makes it possible for almost anybody with a digital camera to create gigabyte images that are easy to display and manipulate online. While the "pro" model costs $900, for only $300,
"the GigaPan Epic robotic camera mount makes it fun and easy to capture gigapixel panoramas with most compact digital cameras and works seamlessly with GigaPan Stitch software and Compact and lightweight, yet powerful and durable - the GigaPan EPIC is ideal for travel and adventure."

Scale: One of the challenges of architecture and engineering is to be able to move between scales. The architect needs to see an entire space or even an entire building within the context of its environment, but also has to understand how a doorknob or window detail fits into the the project. The structural engineer must understand how forces get distributed throughout an entire structure, but must also pay attention to individual joint and anchorage details.

GigaPan allows you to present your products in context. Beneath the overall composite, you can show thumbnails of interesting close-ups. When a thumbnail is clicked, the software zooms from the macro image to the indicated item.

A typical photograph will capture a viewer's attention for a fraction of a second. But a GigaPan invites a viewer to explore, increasing his or her time on your website page where other product-related messages can also be displayed.

Games and Contests:
This may be the ultimate "Where's Waldo" puzzle. A contest can encourage viewers to search an image to find your treasure or clues. Information about your product can be embedded throughout the image. Games like these can be especially attractive to a younger audience that grew up playing online games.

Technical and Quality Control Issues:
The stitching works not only with vast vistas, but also with micro photography. This opens many opportunities for use in technical presentations or for offering evidence of quality control.  Click here for micro images of insects.

Training and Presentations:
Complex products, machines, and systems can be made easier to understand when the viewer can move around and get in close to see parts of interest.

Social Media and Mobile Media:
These giga images can be inserted into websites or e-mail and used in other social media applications. They offer a way to display large images on a small mobile platform like an iPad or smart phone.

Search Engine Optimization:
Images can be posted at the GigaPan website and linked into Google Earth. Undoubtedly, other platforms will embrace the format and they will become integrated into video and photo sharing sites. These sites allow the use of tags and keywords that can help search engines and potential customers find you.

New Advertising and Publishing Format:
I can imagine giga photos as a type of online banner ad that allows one to zoom in or out to get more information. An entire catalog or magazine could be captured in a single giga image.

Final Thoughts:
I am sure I have just touched the surface what will emerge from this technology. Eventually you will be able to use systems like this to transmit real time images, and photos like this will be integrated into building information models (BIM) and virtual reality worlds.

I invite you to contact Chusid Associates to discuss how giga photos can be most useful in your marketing mix.
Here are links to a few architectural or construction images from the GigaPan website:
Burj Khalifa Tower
Burning Man Waffle Structure
Frank Gehry's Fred and Ginger Building
Leonardo Dialogo (nanotechnology art) - Interior
Union Station, Washington DC - Interior
Building after gutting by fire - forensic record

Another publisher of panoramic giga photos is at

The Future of Design Tools

One of the most memorable parts of the recent Iron Man movies was the interactive holographic tool Tony uses to design his armor (if you have not seen the movie, watch this). This level of motion-based computing has become a sci-fi staple, and it is easy to understand why. How great would it be to design buildings the same way painters and sculptors create art?

Now watch this:

The researchers are using a motion-detecting video game console, which many still dismiss as "toys", to control a game so complex that it normally requires specialized keyboards and mouses. The complexity of World of Warcraft controls is equivalent to the complexity of BIM design tools: a set library of functions that can be performed on selectable objects in an interactive, changeable environment. Granted, the controls are rough and hardly ready for "serious players", but that is just a matter of refinement.

Consumer Product Analyst James McQuivey has this to say about the Kinect:
...Kinect for Xbox 360 will usher us into a new era Forrester has entitled the Era of Experience. This is an era in which we will revolutionize the digital home and everything that goes along with it: TV, internet, interactivity, apps, communication. It will affect just about everything you do in your home. Yes, that, too.

I've just completed a very in-depth report for Forrester that explains in detail why Kinect represents the shape of things to come. I show that Kinect is to multitouch user interfaces what the mouse was to DOS. It is a transformative change in the user experience, the interposition of a new and dramatically natural way to interact -- not just with TV, not just with computers -- but with every machine that we will conceive of in the future. This permits us entry to the Era of Experience, the next phase of human economic development.

Meanwhile, IBM is working on Star Wars-style holographic phone calls. They predict that within 5 years the technology will be compact enough to fit in a cell phone. Desktop versions of the technology should easily handle BIM; the models are already designed for simple computer rendering, and are generally more static than a talking human face.

In other words, it might not be long before we can design buildings with a few waves of the hand. McQuivey points out that manufacturers will need to join the Era of Experience too. Designers will want to handle virtual models of your product, fit them together to build fantastical structures, and see what happens when they fall down. The companies that succeed in this era will be those that can provide that experience.

As a closing thought, the "Era of Experience" idea extends beyond sales tools and computers. The idea of the "Experience Economy" has been around since the mid-90's; I first encountered it as an explanation of why coffee costs so much more at Starbucks than at Denny's. Even deeper than that, though, is the understanding that the experience your clients have with you is part of their experience with your product. Providing a positive experience, which is something above and beyond just providing good customer service, is more important than even the coolest high-tech design tools.

UPDATE: Check out this page for a gallery of amazing Kinect hacks:

[H/T ReadWriteWeb]

Signs of Change: US #1 in Mobile Barcode Usage

The numbers are in, and in Q4 - 2010 the US became the largest user of mobile barcodes.

Mobile barcodes, of which QR codes are the best known format, are quickly gaining acceptance world wide. The release also reports a nearly 500% increase in usage over Q4 - 2009.

This is further evidence critical mass has been achieved. It can be expected that enough, if not all, US consumers (and those from the other nations in the top 10) are aware enough of what mobile barcodes are, and how to use them, that a mobile barcode campaign is a viable option.

To learn more about mobile bar codes, see these posts.

[h/t QR Code Magazine]

Kinect-type hardware for all PCs!

In a recent post I discussed the potential impact of Kinect's motion-detecting controller on the design process; today, I found this update:
PrimeSense, the leader in sensing and recognition technologies, and ASUS, a leading enterprise in the new digital era, announced today that PrimeSense Immersive Natural Interaction™ solutions will be embedded in WAVI Xtion, a next generation user interface device developed by ASUS to extend PC usage to the living room. WAVI Xtion is scheduled to be commercially available during Q2 2011 and released worldwide in phases. 
There is also a software development kit for designers wanting to create 3D-sensing applications to be distributed through an online App Store.

This is the next big breakthrough. Not just for the construction industry, but for the way we use computers. And, since computer tech is getting so small and light, potentially the way we interact with all our tools and devices.

One of the products we considered for our annual Top Ten list was the Norton Trinity "Intelligent Door Closer". It did not make the final cut, but only because we realized we were more excited about the implications of this type of technology than the actual product. Trinity is a door closer with a self-powered on-board computer that monitors room temperature and adjusts door closure rate to compensate. In and of itself a very cool advancement, but the bigger story is the computerization of such a small, background piece of equipment. This is not a computer hooked up to a door so it can open, close, and lock remotely; this a computer in the actual door.

Now combine that with Kinect-style motion controls, and an ever more sophisticated library of gesture recognition.

Imagine a sink that can see you pull your hands away in shock from scalding water, and adjust the temperature to compensate.

Imagine lamps that increase lighting when you pick up a book, then turn it down when you lie down to sleep.

Imagine phase-change windows that become opaque or translucent based on your gesture.


[h/t ReadWriteWeb]