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AI Watch: The House that AI Built

This week I'm presenting at the International Builders' Show, the largest annual light construction conference in the world. NAHB, the organizer, expects to attract nearly 70,000 visitors from more than 100 countries to Las Vegas for this event. I'm appearing on the Game Changers track, and I'll be talking about how artificial intelligence is quickly becoming a game-changing technology in home building. Chances are many of the conference attendees are already feeling the influence of AI, but I'm going to be presenting use cases that underscore the innovative ways AI will be changing the world of home building. I'd like to share three examples here:

Welcome to AI Watch

Welcome to the inaugural post of our new "AI Watch" blog, written by Noelle Russell, Microsoft MVP and founder and Chief AI Officer at the AI Leadership Institute. An expert in the Azure Machine Learning Platform and  Azure AI Services, Noelle specializes in helping companies with emerging technologies, cloud, AI and generative AI. You can find her on X at @NoelleRussell_.

Smart Home: Some of us have been anticipating the maturation of the smart home for about a decade. It's been a long trip, and the road has been a bumpy one, but we're getting there. We now have smart thermostats, smart lightbulbs, and vacuum cleaners that know more about the nooks and crannies of our homes than we do. And we have smart speakers that get smarter with every generation. New home buyers are looking for residences that are equipped with interconnected devices and systems that can be controlled and automated through a central hub or smartphone app.

Speaking personally, smart-home tech has been a blessing to me and my family. I have a son with Down Syndrome and a father who suffered a traumatic brain injury, and their needs have motivated me to find, test, and deploy AI-enable home solutions to make their lives better. I have more than 100 AI-enabled devices in my home, and I've tested dozens more. I'm closer to the cutting edge than most homeowners, but not by much, and the gap is closing, fast. In the future, builders will find ways to integrate technology into homes in contextually appropriate ways that will drive increased sustainability and satisfaction of the homeowners.

Digital Twins for Home Building: Virtual objects known as "digital twins" have found their way into the home construction industry, and generative AI has become a critical enabler of this technology. GenAI can be used to create fully immersive virtual homes that builders can "walk through" as they make decisions about designs and materials. Builders can simulate different design options and evaluate their performance before they've driven a single nail, reducing—sometimes drastically—the need for costly changes during construction. 

Virtual twins can ingest a vast amount of data and use it to replicate processes that predict potential performance outcomes and issues that might not be obvious in the real-world. They can simulate the performance of various sustainable materials and construction techniques. They can make it possible to analyze data about bio-based materials, passive solar designs, and plans for natural light, and then incorporate that data into building plans.

Productivity: One of the greatest potential limiters of growth in construction is productivity. While other industries are increasing their ability to produce, in construction that ability is declining. According to Fannie Mae, we will be about 400 million units short of the needed inventory of housing in the US over the next decade. AI-based technologies can help construction companies connect designers with contractors and builders, reducing the friction currently associated with mass producing housing units. AI can be used to analyze regulation in real time to offer insights that help construction companies build the right thing, at the right time, under certain regulations. AI can be the amplifier of productivity that the industry has been so hungry for.
The explosion of AI-based technologies and solutions is fueling an urgent need to rethink how homes are built. AI empowers us to reinvent the way we mass produce homes in a responsible, economical, and sustainable way, allowing us to meet the shortage of homes with growing productivity and increased outputs.

Join me next time when I will share the latest from my trip to the Microsoft Global MVP Summit.

Posted by Noelle Russell on 03/01/2024