The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the construction industry into disarray, with social distancing protocols limiting the number of people allowed onsite at a time. What if there was a photo documentation solution like Google Street View, where you can navigate around a floorplan to view the jobsite and see status changes remotely? That’s OpenSpace.
OpenSpace is a San Francisco based tech company that is on a mission to bring new levels of transparency to construction via 360 images. Their solutions combine Insta360 cameras, computer vision and AI to make it incredibly easy to capture a complete visual record of the jobsite, share it via the cloud and track progress.
To date, OpenSpace’s customers have used their platform to capture over a billion square feet of active construction projects across thousands of sites in dozens of countries. And since March 2020, they’ve seen over 500% growth.
We interviewed Robert Shear, head of marketing, partnerships and strategy at OpenSpace, to learn more about their photo documentation solution using Insta360 cameras.
1. What is the value of a 360-degree photo documentation solution for jobsites?
Photo documentation is often required on construction sites to create a record of concealed work in case any issues arise during the life of the building. With COVID-19, progress photos are becoming a critical part of keeping jobs rolling as many team members can no longer be onsite.
At first, construction photos were just taken by a camera or smartphone and stuffed into folders by date or floor. Of course, this quickly becomes unmanageable.
Next, manual 360 photo documentation solutions arose that allowed users to take 360 photos and manually locate them on the floor plan. 360 was a major step forward because you can look around the site and really get an idea of what is going on.
Finally, OpenSpace pioneered video capture documentation. The user simply walks the job and the camera takes two 360 images a second. We align them to the floor plan, automatically stitch them together and serve them up via the Web just like a Google Street View of the jobsite.
2. How has the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the need for photo documentation solutions?
COVID-19 has definitely hit construction hard. Most jobs were shut down and now the ones that have opened back up have new access restrictions and requirements for social distancing. Teams have to get more done with fewer people and they need to keep remote team members in the loop even if they can’t get onsite.
These challenges highlight the value of OpenSpace and have hugely accelerated usage. We have seen a 500% increase in product usage since March and we are adding new jobs and new users daily. What was first seen as a stop gap to capture jobs during shutdown has now become an essential part of keeping jobs rolling. Like telemedicine that has seen a huge spike with COVID, we feel that tele-construction is here to stay.
Check out this video from one of our clients, Boldt, on how they’re shooting their sites with Insta360 ONE X and OpenSpace during COVID-19:
3. What’s the workflow like for photo documentation of a construction site with OpenSpace and an Insta360 camera?
The heart of OpenSpace is simplicity. Construction teams just don’t have the time to learn complex technology or tools that don’t work the first time, everytime. To capture with OpenSpace, a user can simply:
- Open the OpenSpace mobile app, connect wirelessly to Insta360 ONE R or ONE X, and tap “Start”.
- Walk the site as they would normally, usually with the camera mounted to their hard hat or a tripod. The camera automatically takes two 360 images per second.
- Tap “Finish” on the app when they’re done walking. They can either go to another location to take another capture or they can go back to the trailer or office and upload the videos to our cloud service.
- The OpenSpace app then processes the images to align them to the floorplan and stitches them together into a continuous Google Street View style web interface.
That’s it! And we typically can turn the processing around in less than 30 minutes.
4. What’s the difference between your OpenSpace Photo and OpenSpace Project solutions?
OpenSpace Photo is our free manual photo documentation solution. Photo allows you to take 360 photos and manually locate them on the floorplan using our mobile App. A user walks to a location, indicates the location on the floor plan, takes a photo and then walks to the next location and repeats the process. This works great for smaller jobs like home remodels or small renovations.
OpenSpace Project is our automated video product that lets the user just tap and go. Our customers typically upgrade to OpenSpace Project when manually pinning photos becomes too cumbersome—either because they are capturing more often or because they are capturing a larger area.
5. What is most important in selecting a 360 camera for construction site photo documentation?
For construction site photo documentation we need high-quality images, a lightweight camera and solid APIs that allow the camera to be configured programmatically.
ONE R and ONE X are the best cameras for construction photo documentation on the market.Robert Shear, OpenSpace
6. Why should companies choose OpenSpace? What sets it apart from other solutions?
OpenSpace makes photo documentation and remote collaboration incredibly easy. There are literally dozens of ways to take jobsite photos. But especially in these times of COVID restrictions, onsite teams can’t be fighting with unproven tech or waiting days to get their images back. OpenSpace lets ANYONE capture at the speed of construction to keep jobs moving.