OpenSpace: 360° capture that’s Fitbit simple, and a step toward the job site analytics of the future

Despite the flurry of recent development in the construction market, Jeevan Kalanithi says, the technology for documenting construction job sites still has some way to go. That’s why he banded together with two other graduates of MIT’s Media Lab to found OpenSpace, a company dedicated to making a solution that combines the ease of 360° image capture with the power of artificial intelligence, a smattering of location-estimation technologies borrowed from robotics, and, someday, very advanced visual analytics.

In more practical terms, CEO Kalanithi describes the company as working to take the “labor and infrastructure” out of the capture process for the job site.

The OpenSpace workflow

Here’s how OpenSpace works. Mount an off-the-shelf 360° camera on your hardhat, and hit start on the app. Next, Kalanithi says, “put your phone away and walk around the job site freely. You don’t have to go on a ‘capture mission’ to take photos, everything just happens in the background, with the camera clicking away, taking images almost as if it’s taking a video.” Tests show that the battery will last about 10 hours.

OpenSpace Split Screen

OpenSpace Split Screen

When you upload that data to the cloud service, an automated process takes over. The service takes information from the 360° camera—including, we can assume, IMU data—and feeds it to machine-learning derived algorithms, which stitch the photos together into a coherent, Google Street View-style output. These algorithms also chart the movement of the user through that space, and recognize objects like windows.

Let’s talk benefits. OpenSpace helps document progress so you can so “go back in time” and find objects–like piping–that have been obscured by walls. It also offers a split-screen function for doing quick progress checks by comparing data captured on different dates. It offers functionality for annotation, sharing with users both on site and remote, and integration with other tools so your data can move smoothly. This is the kind of solution that is well liked within AEC–the software and hardware ecosystem that offers a simple means of communication and oversight, as well as a single source of truth to ensure that everyone is on the same page. The hope is that greater savings and efficiency will follow.

Crystal Balandran