A new piece of technology developed by Google's secret research unit promises to radically transform the global construction industry by boosting efficiency and reducing the cost of projects by up to a half.
The new technology created by Google X – the Internet giant’s secret research and development unit responsible for innovation in non-core areas – originally went by the moniker of “Genie” during development, a reference to the all-powerful lantern-dwelling spirits of Middle Eastern legend and myth.
Genie is a platform for the design process and comes equipped with online planning applications and unlimited functional options, including planning tools for architects and engineers and cutting-edge analytical and simulation capabilities.
The platform is capable of standardizing and automating aspects of the design and construction process, thus greatly facilitating the ease and efficiency of projects as they unfold.
Its development team describes it as an “open cloud-based collaboration platform for building delivery.” The team believes the new technology will be nothing short of revolutionary in its implications for green building and sustainable construction given the immense efficiencies it is capable of achieving and the prevailing wastefulness of the global industry.
The international construction industry is estimated to generate $5 trillion year, accounting for around 10 per cent of global GDP. Any improvements to the efficiency of the sector are bound to have a positive impact on the planet’s environment, given that the construction industry consumes 50 per cent of global resources and raw materials and 48 percent of energy supplies while producing 40 per cent of solid waste and 50 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions.
A report by Google X for the company’s senior management estimates that Genie could save 30 to 50 per cent of the costs associated with construction projects and reduce the period of time from the commencement of planning of a project to its market debut by between 30 to 60 per cent. Google estimates that if commercialized the technology could generate around $120 billion a year for the company.
Google has high hopes for the fledgling technology and its potential on the international real estate market, given the enthusiastic responses it has already received from members of industry, including leading architects, engineers and developers.
The Internet giant has enough confidence in the prototype to establish a separate company to focus on its development – Delaware-registered Vannevar Technology Inc.
Vannevar raised $2.2 million at the time of its establishment via the issuance of 14.4 million shares. The project continues to remain highly secretive, however, with the precise identity of equity owners still under wraps and the company lacking even a public address, instead directing all contact requests to a Los Angeles-based law firm.