Among the nearly 10,000 attendees last week at Autodesk University 2013 in Las Vegas, the buzz was all about building information modeling (BIM), evolving technology and what the future may hold.

At the keynote address Dec. 3, Jeff Kowalski, Autodesk’s chief technology officer, said:  “We all need to work hard to unlearn our traditional ‘look inside’ mindset and learn about the power of ‘going outside.’”

In addition to Autodesk, companies such as Topcon and Leica unveiled new solutions for BIM in the geospatial and construction fields. Leica’s BIM Field Trip solutions to help contractors extend the value of BIM into the field and connect field information back to the model in the office.

Topcon’s also introduced a BIM solution: the LN-100— touted as the first 3D positioning system designed specifically for construction layout.

At Autodesk University, Kowalski said “It’s easier and cheaper to scan relevant reality into the computer than it is to do something manually—it leads to something richer and more accurate than the original manual approach.”

At the annual user conference, Autodesk unveiled several technologies to extend BIM value across architecture, engineering and construction professionals in the building and infrastructure industries.

“We are expanding the reach of BIM on multiple fronts—into conceptual design on one end of the spectrum and into construction on the other,” said Amar Hanspal, Autodesk senior vice president of Information Modeling and Platform Products. “Our advancements are empowering professionals to move from designing objects and simply representing their ideas in 2D and 3D to designing in context while optimizing and better predicting the performance of their designs.”

Autodesk’s announcements included a major update for computational design with the merger of Autodesk Dynamo and Autodesk DesignScript; the acquisition of Graitec’s Advance Steel and Advance Concrete product lines and employees; the launch of Autodesk Structural Bridge Design; the acquisition of technology assets from UK-based Azalient Ltd.; and a collaboration with Topcon to further improve the integration of BIM workflows and field layout to support greater predictability, productivity and profitability. Autodesk is developing a BIM 360 mobile app for the iPad to simplify the process of locating BIM coordinates on a construction site.

“The product updates, innovations and acquisitions we’re showing at AU clearly demonstrate that we are keeping our foot on the gas and continuing to invest in and expand our BIM portfolio to meet the evolving needs of the industry,” Hanspal said. “We intend to continue extending our advantage in 2014 and beyond.”

At the opening keynote address, Kowalski stressed the need for companies to use outside resources to implement innovative ideas.

“One great reason to go outside for insight is that it helps us to go outside our blind spots.  At Autodesk, we want to see what we are missing and what we should be paying attention to that we are not,” he said.

Carl Bass, Autodesk chief executive officer and president, said: “The best decisions that I’ve made have come from thinking about things differently, breaking the rules and going outside.”