News about Innovation in the Built Environment


The Locomotion Expert Who Dreams Of Flight

head shot of Barry Clark in striped golf shirt

Barry Clark’s career has been characterized by tackling projects that on the surface seem straightforward – but in reality are deceptively challenging.

As co-CTO of SoftWear Automation, he’s disrupting the $100B sewn products industry by replacing sewing labor with cutting-edge robotics. He’s also pursuing his Ph.D. in Robotics from The Ohio State University, with a focus on empowering walking robots and prosthetics to function better through a more complete understanding of how humans are able to walk without falling down.

Barry is a passionate lifelong learner who sees a bright future in the open source movement. He’s ready to cheer on anyone who’s doing what they love. His best advice? Get your hands dirty.

What projects are you currently working on?

Barry Clark: I have two paths. I work for an automated sewing company with novel IP moving away from hard automation in favor of soft automation. With fabric, the traditional method of clamping and treating it like a piece of steel doesn’t work, because textiles move in a way most metals don’t. So we use software improvements, computer vision, and other sensors to move this material like you would any other.

I’m also finishing my Ph.D. in mechanical engineering where I focus on human walking. If you look at current state-of-the-art robots, they’re phenomenally impressive. But even their performance pales compared to what a human can do. Human motion is both very efficient and very stable. My lab looks at locomotion through the lens of energetic optimality. I’m using metabolic-like cost functions in combination with mathematical optimization to better understand these characteristics in human walking and running.

How long have you been part of this industry?

Barry Clark: I entered grad school in 2010 with a desire to focus on robotics and controls. I’ve really been in the industry since 2013 when I joined the team at SoftWear Automation, which at the time was an ATDC company.

What changes have you seen for the positive?

Barry Clark: The push to open source makes it much easier to get your hands on complicated tools and dig through what a lot of really smart people have done, understand it, and implement it more quickly. That’s a really positive change that continues to grow exponentially.

For example, OpenCV is one of the big computer vision libraries. You can do some pretty interesting things once you know how to use that tool, and it’s available to anyone. Same thing with ROS on the control side; you can take lots of information from sensors and cameras and turn it into control signals without much effort. Those tools are widely available to students, industry, all kinds of people.

What changes have you seen for the negative?

Barry Clark: I don’t know that it’s a change, but the concept that robots will take jobs is very polarizing. There are studies out there that indicate that at least this far, automation has only done good things for workers. For the most part in the US, automation has created jobs and created more highly skilled workers, which makes people more valuable in a wider range of industries. That won’t hold true forever maybe, but people with factory jobs view robotics as a negative thing and it doesn’t need to be like that.

What draws you to the technology side of things?

Barry Clark: I’ve always liked making things work. Spending a lot of time in grad school (running on eight years now…) I’ve really bought into lifelong learning. Particularly, right now, if you took a month off you would miss quite a bit. I like the idea of continuing to grow and learn new things. I can’t imagine where the field will be in 30 years because of the amount of growth that will take place. It excites me that it’s ever changing and in order to be a leader in your field you have to be constantly learning and you have to be flexible.

Imagine you’re talking to a high school senior. What would you tell her to major in, and why?

Barry Clark: Major in whatever you’re passionate about and go all in on it. I knew people in college who had stereotypically “bad” majors like English, Anthropology, American Studies — things the classic father figure might be displeased with. But they all did really well because they went all in. They didn’t major in anthropology because it was easy, they majored in it because they were passionate about it. Do everything you can to become an expert in your field, broaden your skill set, and take advantage of opportunities. If you do that, whatever you major in, it will be okay.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?

Barry Clark: Three things. First, get involved in the open source movement. Second, be a generalist. Robotics is the complete blend of electrical, mechanical, computer, and materials science. It’s an amalgamation of all those things, so get your hands dirty early. Third, work on personal projects in your spare time. School can only teach you so much. If you can build your own robot or write your own code for a home automation project — all those things will help accelerate your understanding and be a better roboticist in the future.

What was your first job ever?

Barry Clark: I was a tennis camp counselor. (Being blond wasn’t a requirement.)

Tech Takes

What is your must-have smartphone app?

Barry Clark: I try to stay off my phone but the app I, unfortunately, spend the most time on right now is — I have this Peak brain training app so I have all these little games on my phone that were kind of dumb. So now I play games that they say are helpful for cognitive function.

What are your 3 favorite technology tools you use throughout your day?

Barry Clark: My laptop is my overall favorite tool. After that, I really like python which is a fun, easy to use prototyping language. Google Docs and Google Sheets — the ability to edit the same document while you and your collaborators are in a different place is incredibly powerful. It sounds simple but that’s one of the more powerful tools I use.

If you could wave a magic wand and create a new technology, what would it be?

Barry Clark: I would create some sort of personal aircraft. The ability to go longer distances much more quickly on a much more straightforward path would be awesome.

Windows/MAC/Linux and why?

Barry Clark: For personal consumption, I’m a Mac guy for sure. For work, I like Linux. I feel like everything for programming and robotics works better in Linux.

Exploring the Scale and Scope of the Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC) Industry at Spar 3D and AEC-STE

While keynotes from industry stalwarts like Paul Doherty and Aaron T. Becker and plenary presentations by Greg Bentleyand Burkhard Boeckem were considered by many to be the highlights of the SPAR 3D Expo and Conference, the biggest news from the show had actually come a few weeks earlier. In March, SPAR 3D and AEC Science & Technology (AEC-ST) announced that they would co-locate in June of 2018 in Anaheim, California.

The post Exploring the Scale and Scope of the Architecture, Engineering & Construction (AEC) Industry at Spar 3D and AEC-STE appeared first on AEC-ST

Source: AECST


Why Construction Sites Aren’t Ready for Automation

It seems inevitable that every industry will eventually start automating. In construction this moment has already arrived, partially due to the release of unmanned aerial systems, many of which include software and payloads designed to help companies create 3D maps of their worksites without any human intervention.

The post Why Construction Sites Aren’t Ready for Automation appeared first on AEC Science and Technology.

Source: AECST

Developers propose $1B suburban Chicago technology park targeting tenants in the areas of Robotic, Digital and Automated Manufacturing Technology and Data Storage

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The post Developers propose $1B suburban Chicago technology park appeared first on Construction Dive.


Caterpillar buys into Australian bricklaying robot

Caterpillar Inc, the world’s largest maker of construction machinery, has announced that it will invest in Hadrian, a brick-laying robot developed back in 2015 by an Australian aeronautic engineer.

The post Caterpillar buys into Australian bricklaying robot appeared first on



Exploring the 2017 AEC Market Overview Report

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CIMdata delivers Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) consulting, research, and education to global PLM leaders. Their annual review of the AEC market provides a thorough look at the trends in the market and how AEC solution providers are responding to them. The 70-page report includes 20 charts tables of data detailing the global AEC market along several dimensions.

In the report, details like the growth in cloud services, innovations in the area of reality capture as well as VR/AR developments are discussed in detail. Additionally, the report contains AEC solution provider analysis for some of the biggest companies in the industry, including Autodesk, Bentley Systems, Hexagon AB and Trimble Navigation, just to name a few.

We caught up with Ed Martin, Director, AEC / Manufacturing Convergence Consulting Practice, at CIMdata to gather a few more insights around the sort of info that’s in this report, and how it can best be utilized. Ed has previously detailed the opportunities and obstacles to change in AEC, and it’s clear this report deals with those topics directly and indirectly. He also lays out some high level takeaways and talks about how the info in this report will influence strategic planning and marketing for stakeholders in a variety of roles and industries.


Jeremiah Karpowicz: At a very broad level, what does the information in this report tell you about the position and stability of the AEC market?

Ed Martin: Overall, the market is showing steady growth in most areas. We’re seeing especially strong growth in the construction solutions segment. The market for process plant solutions has been weak, driven by continuing weakness in energy prices, but most other areas are strong. Autodesk’s business transition has impacted headline revenue numbers, but that is an expected and temporary effect due to their move to recurring term subscriptions.


Were there any major surprises that stuck out to you in the course of compiling the info in this report?

I was struck by the strong growth by certain providers. For example, Nemetschek’s organic growth exceeded 15%, and their Build (construction) segment organic growth was 30%. Their overall growth including acquisitions was of course even higher. They weren’t alone, either, we estimated strong growth by certain other companies as well.


Did you notice or highlight major changes for any of the solution providers that were profiled in the report? Have many of them expanded their services, or made an adjustment to focus on a specific product or service?

The report goes into some detail for each provider, and their strategies do differ somewhat. However, there are some common themes that emerge. There is clearly a trend toward more and richer cloud solutions, and several providers are expanding their solutions for construction. There are some pretty substantial differences in acquisition strategies, with some companies in a very acquisitive phase and others taking a much more conservative approach.


Can you talk a little bit about how you envision the information in this report can and will influence strategic planning and marketing for stakeholders in a variety of roles and industries?

CIMdata’s market reports, including the AEC report, are used throughout the industry as a source of both quantitative information and qualitative insights to inform strategic planning, product planning, and M&A activity. These reports help companies validate and update insights they obtain from their own engagement with the market. We expect the AEC report to be used in a similar way.


What would you say to someone who is looking to setup a strategic planning session for their organization, but doesn’t believe the 2017 AEC Market Overview Report needs to be part of that discussion?

I would encourage that person to visit the CIMdata website to see what they’re missing. The table of contents and a list of figures and tables is freely available for download. The report itself is very cost-effective in comparison to the information it contains.


Click here to learn more about the 2017 AEC Market Overview Report

The post Exploring the 2017 AEC Market Overview Report appeared first on AEC Science and Technology.

Construction Robot Might Make Blue Collar Jobs Easier + Why Construction Is The Career of Choice For Gamers + Best Drone For Architects + More


Today’s Daily is sponsored by  This Wacky Construction Robot Might Make Blue Collar Jobs Easier  | @inversedotcom Construction is among the least automated industries in the United States. And that’s a problem, because in an industry plagued by worker shortages, robots wouldn’t be displacing humans, they’d be filling in where there are no people to be found. …

The post Construction Robot Might Make Blue Collar Jobs Easier + Why Construction Is The Career of Choice For Gamers + Best Drone For Architects + More appeared first on BUILTR.IO.

Source: BUILTR