Some months ago, a structural engineer friend James Burt alerted me to FieldLens, and we had a long chat about this and related applications before the London launch of BIM4SMEs in April.
FieldLens is the work of a New York based development team led by CEO Doug Chambers. It aims to put construction collaboration on the mobile device – in this respect, the company is pursuing a similar approach to other mobile-first developers such as FluidCM and GenieBelt – and it particularly interests me for its shift from email-type communication processes to mobile-friendly short-form status updates and messaging shared via news feeds similar to Facebook’s “Timeline” feature. Indeed, recently reviewed by US publication, Engineering News Record, the application was dubbed the “Facebook of Construction”.
Chambers worked as a project manager on several high-profile projects, including the World Trade Center rebuild, and frustrated by the communication breakdowns, switched from construction to tech, raising over $1 million in startup funding. The service is currently free for approved beta testers until the end of 2013. The paid version will launch in early 2014 and will cost $15 per user, per month, for an unlimited number of projects, says Chambers.
The idea of a shared messaging or discussion stream for construction collaboration is not new. In September 2009, for example, I had a look at Incite’s shortlived Toolbox application which used the Web 2.0 concept of a comment stream – something also picked by fellow Australian companies Ennova (May 2011 post) and ProjectCentre (October 2011 post). While many of these early efforts were focused on traditional PC usage via a web browser, the pace of mobile computing adoption, and growing familiarity with social media communication styles, has made it inevitable that the idea would be applied for tablet and smartphone applications.