Disruptive Technology, or Paving Over Old Cow Paths?

What is truly disruptive technology? Is 3D laser scanning disrupting the AEC/Built World or are we just “Paving Over Old Cow Paths? 

Disruptive Technology logo for LN

Disruptive Technology?

For those who may not have heard the phrase, “Paving Over Old Cow Paths’ refers to the automating of manual procedures without first asking if the workflow itself could be improved, rather than simply perpetuated in digital form. Take a look at most of the old country roads and you will see where the phrase came from.

I attended an important AEC/Built World conference yesterday where disruption was the key topic which made me think, what does it take for a product or service to be truly disruptive in a marketplace?

As examples of what I think we would all agree are truly disruptive products, or technologies are the iPhone, Autocad, GPS, the PC and I would like to suggest 3D laser scanning or lidar.

I have heard disruption described as an order of magnitude improvement in a product or service with a similar reduction in cost, but I think the true disruptors usually change the game so much that you have to put the product in an entirely new category.

We are talking revolution, not evolution. After a few years of using a disruptive product or service, you don’t even remember the old technology. True disruption however, is rare.

In the case of 3D laser scanning one of the projects that I have been working on recently is the analysis of concrete floor slab flatness and levelness, as it is termed by ASTM E1155. This standard uses F numbers to characterize these two values.

The issue is that the current approach to using 3D laser scanning is to determine the F numbers is that it is simply automating the manual procedure which results in basically a 1D solution and the minimal use of the 3D point cloud data.

If you have any experience with this, please let me know.

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