While attending Revizto’s London Field Day earlier this year, Martyn Day caught up with CEO, Arman Gukasyan, to discuss the company’s origins, development path and latest release
In the world of digital coordination and project information dissemination, Revizto has been pushing the boundaries since 2011. Headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland the company quotes that it has over 150,000 AEC users in 150 countries. After 12 years of development, it’s still a private company and has a user-base that’s growing rapidly, including firms such as AECOM, BAM, Atkins, Grimshaw, BDP and Balfour Beatty.
The software has evolved from basic viewing and filtering to being an essential tech stack element. The Revizto cloud-based hub provides a highly performant single source of truth for 2D and 3D project data, together with issue tracking, VR, clash detection and now with a full-power iPhone and tablet client.
Martyn Day: Revizto has appeared in AEC Magazine for some time, but I don’t think we have ever covered the origins of the company and where its technology came from. How did Revizto start?
Arman Gukasyan: It all started following a stint working for Infomap. Part of my role was developing the business and in meetings and discussions with c-level executives about city planning, I found out that they were getting not only different sets of data from different disciplines but also each city and county/region had their own set of standards and guidelines to follow!
With buildings, infrastructure and cities becoming more and more complex, the data they needed was insufficient for their needs. At the time it was all about CAD data as BIM was only just being talked about.
I started to experiment to see which technologies could handle the heavy 3D data without distorting it, and create a lightweight, interactive version, which could be used for communication and collaboration.
It was pretty clear to me that gaming technologies were the way to go, as a number of games included expansive maps and models of cities.
With angel investment I started the business in 2008 and hired the first employee who was a game developer. We wanted to disrupt the AEC industry with technology to support project coordination, collaboration and project communication; and be uncomplicated and scalable.
Our experiments started with 2D AutoCAD data and us creating 3ds Max models. At first, we provided a service for small to medium-sized construction projects, delivering an EXE file which created an interactive way to explore designs. This created a huge clash between owners and architects, as the architects didn’t recognise their designs, as they had never seen all their data imported into one place before! It gave them a whole new context on the project.
Martyn Day: Autodesk bought UK developer Navisworks in 2007. To some extent this was their BIM viewer for the masses. It sounds like rather than delivering an application you were more of a service at the time?
Arman Gukasyan: We delivered two main projects as a service business before deciding that this wasn’t where I wanted the company to be. [The first project was] creating an exact replica of the Olympic Village, both buildings and infrastructure for the Olympic Committee.
They used this model to train 4,500 volunteers six months before the Olympics took place, which hadn’t been done before. One of the Olympic sponsors, Coca Cola used the model to help decide placement of their billboards to assess viewing points.
The second project was a model for La Sagrera in Barcelona, a high-speed train connecting Paris and Barcelona. Our model and simulations helped to identify that the platforms would be too narrow to manage the rush-hour capacity so changed were made to address this issue.
We developed Software as a Service in 2011 when Revit and SketchUp were the main authoring tools. We developed plugins for the model so that data could be ‘sucked out’ of Revit, taken into Revizto and optimised allowing users to interactively explore their designs in a basic way.
Seeing that this was not enough, we then created an issue tracking component to sit on top of it based on Jira from Atlassian and adopted for the AEC industry.
I travelled between Switzerland and the US a fair bit in the early days, so this is where I first recruited a dedicated sales representative. Then we came to the UK, EMEA followed by APAC.
We launched Revizto at Autodesk [University] AU in 2012. We were a very different offering from what was on the market, Revizto’s focus is, and always will be, on ease of use.
After the initial successful launch, we started to develop the issue tracker more, bringing 2D and 3D together, because, even today, 2D is still a big part of the process, when it comes to contractual documents.
In 2015 we developed an automatic overlay with a 3D [model], which proved very popular and in turn, we were being trusted by larger organisations and working on bigger projects.
Although it seemed like the main authoring tool being used by the industry for BIM was Revit, we realised that we had to maintain being platform agnostic and also support others like Bentley, Nemetschek and Trimble so we developed integrations for all the platforms. Every market vertical (civil, rail, oil and gas, mining, architecture etc.) has different tools that they use. You can bring your data into Revizto no matter how you create your data!
In 2017/2018 we added support for point clouds, as firms increasingly started to check the reality against the BIM data. We were the first to work out how to get point clouds on phones and tablets. Our customers can load huge point clouds without any challenges or streaming, caching locally, automatically. When you are using a streaming-based solution, you are very dependent on your bandwidth and where and when you can open a project. In Revizto, once you open a project, it’s cached on your local machine or mobile device (phones and tablets).
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Martyn Day: In all Common Data Environments (CDEs) and model viewers, clash detection is always high on the end user wish list. Last year you released a major update with a very good, mature clash detection capability. This caused some issues with Autodesk who refused you a stand at Autodesk University. With Spacemaker and Navisworks, you were suddenly deemed perhaps too competitive?
Arman Gukasyan: We spent several years (2018 – 2021) developing clash detection whilst watching the market to see if solutions such as Navisworks or Solibri were going to be developed further in this direction. We saw no evidence of this and as our customers were asking for a clash tool, we released the capability within Revizto in 2021 to create an integrated collaboration platform.
Martyn Day: Autodesk really confused the Navisworks product, moving some functionality to the cloud and leaving some on the desktop, which meant your data needed to be in two places, depending on what functions you wanted to do. I’ve come across users who had been told that Navisworks was end of life.
Arman Gukasyan: Our philosophy here at Revizto is to listen to what our customers would like, really listen. This is done in a number of ways, with the main one being through our implementation team who have all come from industry. This team encourages our customers to show us their challenges and we aim to develop a solution.
Our clash solution came about from these conversations – a truly collaborative process. Revizto cloud architecture allows everyone involved in the project (no matter where they are based) to view which clash tests are being worked on, however no one else can touch these clash issues until the person working on them finishes. Once finished everyone can view them in real time.
Clash detection is not about creating millions of clashes and stuffing them into an issue tracker. Clash detection is how can I create a clash free model, and then feed only the real clashes into the issue tracker. With other solutions, if you open up your mailbox, you have 1,000 or 2,000 unread messages, you will never get to the bottom. With Revizto everything happens in real time.
Martyn Day: While clash detection is highly asked for and highly valuable to protect against causing millions of dollars of errors on site, the number of people that do clash detection seem to be a loud minority?
Arman Gukasyan: That may be so, but clash detection is part of the process in managing data. Revizto is an integrated collaborative platform where clash detection is a main part of the platform. There may be a loud minority, but it is a powerful minority.
Martyn Day: Moving on to the iPhone version, how much data can you hold on it? Can it be used on an iPad? Is there a memory limitation on your app or the generation of iPhone that you can open?
Arman Gukasyan: It depends on what project you’re opening, of course, which would start at the size of the model. We don’t have a specific limitation. We did a lot of testing on both the iPhone and Android, and we can push the limits all the time with the iPhone.
Android is less powerful due to the operating system taking a lot of the available RAM. Our brand-new mobile app isn’t streaming the data, it’s loading highly optimised data and can open models that other solutions and desktop apps can’t.
The most important thing the mobile app does is that it only renders whatever you see (occlusion culling). When the mobile app first opens it asks you what data you want – only the cached data, old updates, or if you want to see a particular pipe. It can load files which contain hundreds of models, thousands of sheets, even point clouds.
Martyn Day: There are an increasing number of iPads / tablets on building sites, why the bias to phones?
Arman Gukasyan: Not everyone has a tablet, but nearly everyone has a phone. Again, we listened to our customers who wanted to be more productive by using Revizto on their phone, anytime anywhere.
Martyn Day: So what capabilities are missing from it?
Arman Gukasyan: You wouldn’t actually do clash detection on the phone. You would use the phone app to see all the clashes that have been highlighted in the issue tracker.
Martyn Day: With clash detection and now the mobile app rewritten, which areas are you looking to develop next?
Arman Gukasyan: We currently cover the design and build part of the process and have started to focus on the handover and FM (Facility management) stage. Other areas of interest include Digital Twins and Augmented Reality.
A final point from me is to reiterate that we always watch closely the problems our users have and bring a solution with our own twist. I believe that we have made it easy to access your data, invoke collaboration between all project team members and it will be the main focus for us to make the collaboration seamless across the project lifecycle.