As you’ll probably know by now, here at BEDC we don’t follow what everyone else is doing. It’s always been our mantra to do things differently, find better, faster, and more cost-effective ways of working, and to pass these gains onto our clients. So, when we purpose built our Artificial Intelligence (AI) to take architectural plans and very rapidly and accurately turn them into whole-of-house take offs, which nobody else in the world was doing, we knew we were onto something special.
We solved a global problem by developing our own construction industry specific Artificial Intelligence Globally, every construction project needs to go through a quantity surveying process to be broken down into components and turned into accurate design and engineering jobs including takeoffs and quotes. Before BEDC came along, this process could take days, or even weeks. It was expensive, time consuming, manually taxing, and subject to human error – in other words, ripe for disruption.
Our new AI has reduced the estimation and design process for whole-of-house takeoffs to mere hours, and even minutes in some cases. It is incredibly accurate; running sophisticated computer vision, natural language processing and machine learning algorithms to fully detect, segment, extract, measure, count, specify, and qualify everything on a plan instantly. This information is then passed into another AI database that understands the customer preferences and building rules to prepare completed design and engineering jobs. With such incredible accuracy, only a small level of human checking is required for compliance purposes.
BEDC’s board member Shaveer Mirpuri led the invention of our AI. “It was three-years in the making by a team of 15 experts in building construction and AI, and we’re immensely proud of what we’ve achieved. The sector is only just starting to get excited about generative AI, and we were there developing it back in 2019”, he says. “Our AI understands architectural plans at a granular level with very little historic data. The research and development that went into creating it means it can instantly understand all the components and turn them into complete takeoffs that are accurate, compliant, and always commercially used ‘as returned’. It’s far more than what a trained human could ascertain by eye or other software”.
What makes BEDC’s AI even more interesting is that as our Quantity Surveyors work with it, they automatically train it by accepting or amending the AI’s outputs. It immediately improves without any requirement for manually coded algorithms, meaning it gets better and better with every job. Knowing how incredibly powerful this technology was, we embarked on a process to patent it.
The hard road to protecting our IP At the end of 2022, we had the USPTO allow a highly comprehensive patent application in the US for our AI - which has international applicability. This means that if another business wants to use a system comprising a neural network, feature vector space, and a generative AI component to process a two-dimensional architectural plan to provide a building take-off, it will be incredibly difficult for them.
We’re also absolutely chuffed to say BEDC is the first business in the world to obtain a patent for this type of AI.
However, it was not easy.
When patents were first established back in 1623 by King James the First of England, they were designed to protect tangible things – things you can see and touch. Software and computers often relate to technology, which is intangible, and which can make it notoriously hard to protect. There were two hurdles we had to overcome:
Eligibility: It must be an inventive output that is useful and related to the physical world. However, in the US, computer software/computer implemented inventions are typically deemed patent-ineligible subject matter often as being akin to mental processes or abstract ideas. We essentially had to show we had a new technical innovation on a computer that had a real world application.
Novelty/Inventive Step: To be patentable, an invention must never have been done before.
With the help of James and Wells Partner, Jason Rogers, we had to prove to the US patent office that we weren’t just getting a computer to do what a human could do, or were doing what computers normally do, and that we were the first to create what we had created.
“We were incredibly excited to overcome the eligibility and novelty objections with the help of our US associates Knobbe Martens in a relatively short period of time. It took a lot of work and some ‘outside of the computer’ thinking to help the examiner visualize what was different and totally unique in relation to the outputs generated from the inputs and how this was beyond anything seen to date. These are difficult objections but with tenacity and teamwork we got there in the end,” said Jason Rogers.
“Within the AI category of patents that BEDC’s fell under, only 35% of all patents have been granted after three-years. Comparably, the grant rate for the overall technology category is 75% after three-years. Couple this with the fact that BEDC’s patent was granted in less than18-months, we feel we’ve achieved something pretty rare here”, he adds.
Our AI is in real world action BEDC’s AI is not theoretical – it’s live and in action every day, successfully processing over 10,000 jobs per year for some of the largest builders, material suppliers, component manufacturers, and contractors in the US, Australia, New Zealand and beyond. And what’s great is the trust our clients have in BEDC and our AI, as evidenced by the fact that they keep coming back to us for their design, engineering, takeoff, and estimation services!
If you’d like to hear more about how BEDC’s leading edge design and estimation services can help you achieve greater speed and accuracy, or to see a demo of our AI in action, speak to our team today.