OpenSpace raises $15.9 million to automate photo documentation on construction sites

OpenSpace, a platform that helps construction teams track the progress of building projects through capturing 360-degree photos of construction sites, has raised $15.9 million in a series B round of funding led by Menlo Ventures.

While the construction sector has never been renowned for efficiency, digital technology is playing a pivotal part in getting the $11 trillion industry back on its feet during the COVID-19 crisis. Construction has been particularly hard hit by the pandemic due to social distancing measures, but AI and remote collaboration tools are making it easier for some projects to resume by helping to reduce the number of people required to be on-site.

Founded in 2017, San Francisco-based OpenSpace uses AI to automatically create navigable 360-degree photos of construction sites. The software works in tandem with a 360-degree camera, which builders or site managers strap to their hats to document the evolution of a site. All imagery is sent to the cloud where computer vision and machine intelligence organize, stitch, and map them to project plans.

These visuals allow all stakeholders to monitor progress remotely through virtual site tours, while it can also be a useful tool for resolving conflicts by comparing scenes side-by-side.

Above: OpenSpace: Site comparisons

The company also recently launched a new suite of analytics tools called ClearSight, which ships with a bunch of AI-powered features such as object search — this allows site managers to select an object from any given scene, and then find other similar objects elsewhere on the site.

Above: OpenSpace: Object search

Prior to now, OpenSpace had raised around $17.5 million, the bulk of which came via its series A round less than a year ago, and with another $15.9 million in the bank the company said that it’s now well-financed to “meet the rapidly-growing demand” for its platform.

Indeed, in the immediate aftermath of the global lockdown, OpenSpace told VentureBeat back in May that it had seen a 400% rise in “field notes,” which are comments are made on a project image remotely. The company also said it had seen a 65% increase in the number of web-based viewing sessions and a 37% rise in photo captures.

To meet this growing demand, OpenSpace also fast-tracked a new free version of its service called OpenSpace Photo, which is similar to its core product except that it doesn’t come with any automated smarts — it’s ultimately aimed at smaller projects.

Other similar companies operating in the space include London-based Disperse, which raised a $15 million tranche of funding late last year.

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