Augmented Reality is removing a lot of unnecessary steps from the construction industry. If you can design a building in AR and walk through it before it is even built, a lot of needless work can be eliminated. Some may contest this on grounds of technological unemployment while others may argue that it could reduce barriers of entry -creating even more jobs.
Building information modeling (BIM) is a process involving the generation and management of digital representations of physical and functional characteristics of places. This used to be accomplished using a computer program or even more recently an iphone/ipad.
Now with the introduction of Augmented Reality architects can build and explore their creations in 3D using 360 degrees of space around them. All they’d have to do is strap on some glasses and get to work. The special lens in an AR headset creates a hologram in the persons foreview.
The process starts with the architect using simple hand movements and various AR tools to map out the foundation of their building, then perhaps in co-operation with whoever’s funding the project they’d go over with them various aesthetics and details in a virtual world before hiring contractors. Want more windows? A separate staircase? Touring the building from the viewpoint of a pedestrian gives real perspective and would probably increase the quality of a building simply by virtue of proper foresight.
One of the startups going in that direction is HoloBuilder – who calls themselves the”street view for construction sites”. Their software enables a 360 degree virtual walk-through of pending construction sites. Worker can upload footage of the site to their web platform “job walk” for offline viewing. The construction company Skanska has used HoloBilder to reduce photo documentation by 50%
Technology like this could also help ordinary construction workers access blueprints more readily. A mobile 3 dimensional AR headsets certainly beats a laptop or bringing any other bulky computer hardware to a construction site.
Inspectors may also use these blueprints to identify any inconsistencies between design and product. For example they will be able to see overhead/underground power lines – so if they spot inconsistencies between the virtual and physical they can swiftly leave a pin/tag in AR with accompanying follow up instructions.
For example Paracosm is one of the startups looking to streamline Augmented reality checks for construction. They’re 3D mapping solution includes mobile reality capture, progress monitoring and visualizations. You can generate Building Information Models and compare them to actual onsite work.
Bridging the digital and physical world of engineering is an enticing concept. The automotive industry has recently went this route as well – by designing a vehicle entirely in augmented reality you skip much of the steps to refining a material prototype over and over again.