Why would I want a camera on my phone?

We all remember the conversation or at least a variation of it. Taking place around 21 years ago, and following the launch of the Kyocera VP-210, it went something like this:

“Why the hell would I want a camera on my phone?”

Because back then, the camera was terrible, it cost extra to send pics and taking photos of your lunch wasn’t even a thing.

Fast forward two decades, and most people can’t imagine taking a camera on holiday. Why lug around a huge DSLR when our phones have better cameras, connect to our social networks and even enhance our pictures so even the most ham-fisted snapper can capture those magic moments?

As the pace of technological change has continued, construction as a sector is often criticised for not keeping up. Our team took a look at the technological changes that have happened in their career to provide a bit of balance to the debate.

Sean Savage – Portability

Portability and power have been the critical technological changes during Sean’s career.

“When I graduated, my first full-time engineering job was with Brandon & Associates based in Chinchilla. This was in the very early ’90s, and my boss at the time just got his very first laptop computer.  It was massive and weighed a ton! While laptops are around now, their computing power has exponentially increased and size/ weight hugely reduced.”

“In the late 1990’s I was working as a Project Engineer with Abigroup on the M1 Motorway 6-laning project. Mobile phones at that time were few and far between. I remember the Superintendent got his first one, and it was the size of a small esky with the battery pack! Big difference when compared to current times when everyone is glued to their smartphone, which can do just about anything we want, from pay for a round of drinks to explore augmented reality.  Not so long ago, I remember Blackberrys were the must-have smartphone.  They have now gone by the wayside.”

Andres Rodriguez – Accuracy

For Andres Rodriguez, the biggest improvement through technology he has seen is LIDAR Surveying.

“LIDAR surveying has brought a whole new level of accuracy and data to the construction and infrastructure sectors. The detail that we are able to capture and map is phenomenal, and when overlaid with additional data, we can create a complete view of any site or location.”

“Although laser technology for surveying has long existed, in my first role as an engineer, the company I worked for at the time was involved in a consultancy project in Medellin, Colombia, to upgrade pedestrian assets at the city centre. We wanted to implement a LIDAR Laser survey, but it was expensive and not very time efficient due to post-processing times which at the time computing power didn’t always keep up with.”

“We ended up utilising the conventional method with total station, but the survey model lacked detail. It isn’t something that would happen today; laser devices are now more versatile, and computing capacity allows for faster data processing, turning this technology into a cost-efficient alternative, especially for dense urban environments.”

“What is really scary about the rate of change is that pretty much every phone is now a LIDAR device, so the barrier to entry has been removed.”

Balazs Varga – Lasers, Lifts and Wheels

Invented in the 18th century by John Metcalf, or Blind Jack as he was known, the measuring wheel was a mainstay of construction sites, and for Balazs Varga, it is one of the technologies that have been transformed during his career.

“When I worked on Gold Coast Light Rail Stage 1 (2012) I used a measuring tape wheel for girders. Looking back, it seems strange to have used a device that was over 200 years old and was prone to margins of error and inaccuracy. Replaced with handheld laser measuring devices, it is hard to imagine ever going back to the old way.”

“As well as the measuring wheel, we have sites now where everyone has laptops, where handheld cameras have been replaced by mobile devices that push your images straight to the cloud, with geotags and time stamps that can then integrate into cost and schedules systems.”

Balazs also acknowledges that his career hasn’t just been influenced by digital change; significant improvements have been made to plant and equipment, “The largest franna available used to be 25 tonnes. In 2020 we first had access to 40 tonne frannas, which allow for more lifting configurations, which support efficiency and productivity.”

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