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September 14, 2011

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Tom,

Thanks for mentioning Architactile Inception on your blog. I'd love to chat with you about the significance of mobility for Inception. For us, iPad was an enabling technology - in fact, we don't think it would work nearly as well as a desktop app. We think that the cumbersome nature of the desktop UI paradigm is one of the reasons that an application like Inception has never before been brought to market on any platform.

So why is mobile so important? In a nutshell, Inception might best be described as a predesign feasibility testing tool. Our users use Inception in different ways but when conceived Inception was intended primarily to be used in the earliest client meetings, before a contract is signed, when everyone in the room - the owner, the architect, the contractor - is grappling with the same question: Is this project feasible?

In that very first meeting the architect's job is as much about sales as it is about design, if not more so. Have you ever seen an architect pop open a laptop between them and the client to collect data in that first meeting? I'm guessing not. The reason is that the multipurpose nature of a laptop’s UI is cumbersome and takes focus off the client - something that is certain to kill the deal. Not to mention the laptop screen literally creates a physical vertical partition between the architect and the client. Not good.

So instead, the architect typically takes hand written notes which must be later rekeyed into some form of digital document for analysis and ultimately client presentation. What usually comes next is a week or so of procrastination because NO ONE likes to translate those notes into actionable information. Word. Excel. MS Project. AutoCAD. Often hours and hours. In the meantime the client is excited about their project RIGHT NOW and they want you to be too. The faster the client gets solid, actionable information the higher the likelihood the project will more forward.

Our clients typically collect project requirements directly into Architactile Inception while meeting with the client - often in that very first meeting. The form factor of the iPad allows them to do this without loosing the intimacy of the meeting while eliminating the need to rekey data later. We've also found that architects who are involved in business development don't work in the office - they work at the customer's premise, in their car, at the airport and at Starbucks. If you're good at what you do, you go from one client meeting to the next - not making your way back to the office until after hours. Architactile Inception allows you to quickly synthesize the raw data into a polished deliverable that provides all of the answers most clients need to make a decision to move forward or to rethink - what's the budget, what's the scope, what's the schedule. In short - is this project feasible. For most projects there's simply no faster way to answer that question than Architactile Inception - and you can do it RIGHT NOW where ever and whenever you are because it’s on an iPad.

Architactile Inception users are saving at least 10 to 15 hours on every project they propose. They report that the number of meetings between first client contact and a signed design contract has been cut in half. The amount of time they spend chasing projects that will never come to fruition is often cut down from weeks to one or two meetings. They are faster than their competition. They are better informed. They are providing their clients with information that is better organized, more actionable, and more comprehensive than their competitors and they are providing it much, much earlier in the project cycle. They are spending significantly less time in business development per project and winning more jobs then they were before using Inception. Is that worth $500? Our clients think so.

We think that, as an industry, we've only scratched the surface of possibilities of mobile application in AEC. But we also believe that most folks haven't yet made the change in their thinking necessary to realize the full benefit. This is sort of similar to the transition from traditional CAD to BIM. On the surface, BIM looks at lot like CAD but as long as you think of BIM in terms of CAD you won't realize the full benefit. In the same way, mobile is not the desktop. As long as we think in terms of doing what we do on the desktop on a mobile device we won't realize the full benefit of mobile. Apps that really excel in the mobile format are often those that failed, or never existed at all on the desktop - because the desktop was the wrong paradigm. This may sound a little esoteric, but so probably did your first conversation about BIM. ;)

Thanks again for your mention. Keep up the good work.

If you'd like to chat more, I can be reached at 918-808-3072.

Matt Galloway
Founder & Chief Technologist
Architactile

Dear Tom,

So I read your blog post. Then I commented on it. THEN I read your bio. Really impressive stuff. Please disregard any of the bits of my previous comment that make me sound like an uninformed jackass.

Although I'm now a little confused. I'm uncertain if having someone from Autodesk call my product overpriced is a compliment or a dig. ;)

-M.

There is a glaringly missing app that I believe many people would love to have on the iPad... Design Review. Design Review and DWF in general just scream mobile.

If I had Design Review on an iPad I would be able to view Revit 3D models & sheets, do mark-ups, examine object data, and even print if so desired.

Autodesk Design Review Mobile, nice ring to it.

One app i've been waiting for you guys to develop is a mobile family editor for revit. I always find myself having to tweak families and it would mean I could leave work so much earlier if I could just load them up and work on them during the commute!

I second the Design Review Mobile app, this is really where the practical use of tablets in the field or on the go will be until the UI gets hashed out for full model authoring. I could see using Design Review Mobile to make notes and markups in the field as well as for reviewing drawings and models on the go and in coordination meetings. No more worrying about not having the drawings you need or having out of date drawings.

Also, a stylus could help curb the fat finger issue when you want more precision. I am surprised more tablets don't come with a stylus in the package, some of the original smartphones always had a stylus with a built-in spot to hold it.

As for apps I have used, I fired up AutoCAD WS the first day it hit Android devices but I haven't found much need for it yet as I only have my phone and not tablet to use it on. I see using it on the phone as a last resort if I had nothing else. Tablets should provide enough screen real estate to make it useful.

Yeah, I've also been waiting for a mobile family editor for revit. There would certainly be a high degree of convenience when this becomes mobile.

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