Wednesday 21 November 2018

Three Augmented and Virtual Reality Apps for Design and Construction

Step inside your CAD and BIM models with new software for mobile devices.

Walking clients through a project can be tedious, particularly if the work is still ongoing. Architects have long relied on paper, physical models, field visits, and, more recently, digital tools to convey progress on a project. Earlier this year, Autodesk announced plans to make 3D models created in a selection of its software programs compatible with Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality (AR) technology. The company is not alone. Software developers in the AEC space are evolving digital modelling with the development of AR and virtual reality (VR) platforms that allow project teams to use mobile phones, tablets, and headsets to immerse themselves and their clients in their forthcoming buildings.

The new technology is promising for AEC—AR adds computer-generated objects and textures to real-world environments while VR immerses users in a digital simulation of a real (or soon to be real) environment—but it comes with its challenges.

“One of the hardest things [in encouraging adoption] is education,” says Lindsay Boyajian, marketing manager at Augment, an Orlando, Fla., and Paris–based startup whose iOS and Android app of the same name lets users overlay building plans, marketing materials, and other 2D collateral on a 3D BIM model. “A lot of people aren’t even aware of AR. They think it’s hard to use. We want to change the narrative around AR technology. It’s not this futuristic, far-off technology. It’s for now, and it’s adding great business value for architects.”

Designed for a smartphone or tablet, Augment offers plug-ins for Sketchup, Revit, 3DS Max, SolidWorks, and other design software. After uploading their building models to the app, team members can use their device’s camera to scan either paper plans or the physical job site, bringing the project to life on the screen. Users can then navigate the project through the app. Other features include photo sharing and soon, Boyajian says, the ability to change the colours of objects in the models. Augment comes with a selection of models for public use. Additional features such as custom models and advanced tracking are available at a price set per client.

Visidraft, a startup in the Washington, D.C., metro area, created its eponymous iOS app to let project teams see building products and other elements, such as furniture, within a 3D CAD model of a space. The app is compatible with models from Autodesk's AutoCAD, Revit, and 3DS Max platforms, as well as Trimble's SketchUp, Nemetschek Vectorworks, and Graphisoft's ArchiCAD, and its uses span early-stage massing to finalizing finish choices.

“We build a 3D model of the world around you so that once you place virtual objects inside them, we understand the distances [between the object and its surroundings] and how they relate to that environment,” Visidraft founder and CEO Andrew Kemendo told ARCHITECT earlier this year (see the video below). “That way, you can actually walk around physically with your device and see how [the spaces] change.”

AR and VR technologies are less likely to replace than to supplement CAD, BIM, and the standby paper plans, says James Benham, CEO at Bryan, Texas-based AEC software developer JBKnowledge, which makes the iOS and Android app SmartReality. “People aren’t that good at visualizing things [like completed projects],” Benham says, “so when we were able to produce an app that you can point at a plan file and immediately overlay the BIM model, it helps the owners and constructors and architects communicate their vision for the building … in a way that was never really possible before.”

SmartReality was designed for the AEC sector and works with many 3D software programs, including Revit, the company says. It allows users to turn 2D plans into interactive 3D models on a tablet or through a VR headset like the Oculus Rift VR and Epson's Moverio BT-200 smart glasses. Users file their models with JBKnowledge, which converts them for use with the app. Once converted, project team members can use SmartReality to scan their paper plans with the device's camera, syncing it with the correct 3D model.

The company has also developed a version of the app compatible with tablets that run Google’s Project Tango scanning software and allows users to walk through a floor plan while the virtual model appears around them. Future developments include integrating Leap Motion software for the Oculus Rift VR, allowing gesture-driven commands that let individuals wearing the headset visualize a design over a period of time in a single sitting. “You can walk into a building and make a circle with your hands. It’ll then step forward through the schedule so you can watch the building be built around you,” Benham says.

All of the apps mentioned in this article are free to download. Pricing for in-app functions varies.

Reblogged from: 

(2018). Retrieved 21 November 2018, from

Thursday 15 November 2018

7 Great Uses for Construction Drones

Are you a construction engineer or are you perhaps rebuilding your home? Or just remodelling your home for a fresh look? From scoping out the big picture above to drastically improving safety and efficiency in your business, drones are a great way to make sure that your construction project is the best it can be.

For as long as humans have been on the planet, the construction industry has existed in one form or another. Though it may have been primitive, there were many different projects being erected, from temples and ancient structures, right on up to luxury homes with 4-car garages.

These days you will see many more of the latter going up, as well as mid-sized homes and condominium lofts.

With the rising population in huge cities, many building projects must go up, as they did in Sao Paulo and Hong Kong decades ago. When these projects were started, many human lives were put at risk, because at the time, scaffolding and cranes were some of the only options used to complete the job of erecting these awe-inspiring structures.

It boggles the mind to try and think about what those landscapes must have looked like with all of these towering structures in the making.


In all these projects, one thing is common, LOTS of legwork, stamina and missed details. Construction projects are complicated, time-consuming & resource-intensive projects.

But, once you are done with the project, they are so worth it, right? So why not get imaginative and employ technology to make this once in a lifetime project (or if you’re a builder/construction engineer – your everyday life) much better?

This is exactly what many have done, and from scouting the site to the finishing touches, drones are absolutely a very big part of the picture.

You already have lots of software employed, are using sophisticated measuring tools, good quality construction materials and so on. Have you ever thought: what if I could get a bird’s eye view to my project, without employing a full-blown flying machine, jetpack or a helicopter? It sure would help if you do so.

Or, what if every time there is a problem at the site, you do not have to run there and are able to literally employ eyes and ears on the job site?

You can do all of the above and more with a drone. In fact, most of the advanced construction projects are transformed with drones. It is only a matter of time that drones become a mainstream technology for your construction projects. Why not spearhead this revolution?

Now with options to read geothermal levels, longer battery life, and incredibly high-resolution cameras, camera drones are more sought-after in the construction arena than ever.

Many project managers are surprised at the ease of use and learning curve once they get started, and many seek to outsource the drone flying to someone else: either way, the boosted productivity is noticeable instantly. Read through these quick pointers to get started on how to use a drone in construction projects.

It is no secret that helicopters were the main source of overhead viewing during the earlier days of filmmaking and construction: they were pretty risky to use and resulted in quite a few tragedies along the way.

The footage that visionaries got from them was epic, but as soon as DJI introduced the Phantom product line and many other manufacturers followed suit, surveyors and construction workers realized they could have an eye above them at a fraction of the cost.

Drone For Surveying

You can use drones to quickly survey your job site and build maps. Instead of using human resources, heavy machinery & expensive surveying tools, that produce complex data, you can get the job done in half the time & money, with greater accuracy.

A project manager in Georgia lamented about the use of drones and how they help was pretty groundbreaking in terms of progress and the bottom line. Since it is very common for construction workers to move around from company to company, a project manager can be asked to monitor 30% more jobs during transition times.

With the use of drones, he was able to eliminate all of the extra time needed by getting information quicker, and delivered in a much more concise format.

Drones in construction have made surveying much easier by playing a huge role in making data collection simple. You as the owner or manager can focus your energy on putting to use the data that is collected, rather than spending painstaking hours figuring out how to acquire it.

These small crafts are easily piloted by remote and can transmit quickly the data they are gleaning to a live feed and SD data storage instantaneously.

This makes the task of creating very accurate maps and providing valuable data to numerous companies much easier. Information that you acquire can be uploaded right away to a server, where it can be accessed by individuals all over the globe who you allow authorization.

Drones can reach high-risk areas and tightly-squeezed in locations that are quite a bit harder to reach with a human crew.

Project managers can also opt to use 3D laser scanners that fly over the designated region and give the surveyor quality images of what the terrain appears like.

This data is then used in a process called GIS mapping, which creates a digital map through a mix of statistical analysis and cartography. These maps have a very high definition and allow for the viewing of very specific information about an area that’s easy for the manager to access.

As many national entities will soon offer delivery via drone, proprietors who are in the business of getting their goods quickly to customers will stand up and take notice of regulations that may change drastically in the days to come.

Analyzing the Data

Models such as high-resolution 3d types use browser-based technology so users can simply share by sending a link, and the client can then log in, view the data, and export it to any local entities if they need.

For work on structures such as dykes and dirt containment, this is one way to very easily visualize the progress of the very important duties.

DSMs, or “digital surface models”, show the dark blue areas that need the most focus on them, like areas where the dyke sometimes needs to drain.

3D models can also allow clients to get an orbital view of the entire site, where they can see important variations in the dirt patterns that show where varying levels of progress is working well, or running into issues.

Brassfield and Gorrie is a firm that began using drones for inspection several years ago, and they now have a 24-person team fully dedicated to improving the process with the use of building information modelling.

They are equipped with DJI Inspire series drones and reported that they were a great help during a 61-acre hospital construction site job in Florida.

They were able to successfully use Drone Deploy to compare the model of the existing site with the design file, and the final product was a very useful heat map that showed the external contractor’s progress in amazing detail.

Green areas were used to show elevation matches in the design plans and blue areas where that elevation was too low.

Using these models allowed the team to have access to earthwork on the site much more quickly than they ever could have using manpower on the ground, and the experienced field engineer claimed that it would have required over 1,000 survey shots to accurately complete the daunting task.

Those shots would also have not accurately shown spoil patches, trenches, and the detailed contours of the different areas on the job.

Showing Clients the Progress

When clients stay away from the job site and cannot afford to come to the site again & again & your current pictures are just not doing justice, drones can be an inventive way to show clients the progress of building, renovation, or inspection.

If clients are not able to come to view the job site regularly, drones are very helpful in providing a visual standpoint that they wouldn’t have seen from the ground.

It is not just the task of showing the client what is happening if they can’t be there, it can also help with projects that haven’t even begun yet.

Drones do a great job of giving designers and architects an idea of what putting an adjacent structure up will look like, and how the aesthetics will change a very large project in a community in regards to open space on the ground and upwards.

Monitoring Job Sites

When you have to frequently shuttle between multiple job sites or have taken up simultaneous renovation & facelift for multiple properties; putting up a drone to monitor the progress, work, safety standards and much more can save you a lot of energy, time & money.

When your workers are on a job site, the main objective that any project manager could wish for is keeping them productive. It is understandable that energy levels will ebb and flow, but you can also detect if any equipment shows up missing, or if other areas may need more workers designated to them for special accommodations.

If safety standards are one of the elements you are trying to monitor, one important aspect to keep in mind is that you will be flying a bit low to the ground.

As soon as a pilot has experimented with this for a while it is fine, but this is a part of the operation where you could be buzzing a bit lower than for general birds eye photography. Saving time from travelling between job sites is also a great benefit, as a worker at the adjacent site can fly a drone up and transmit you the photos or video.

Inspecting Structures

Instead of employing heavy software, lots of people and relying on complex readings, you can employ a drone to get a first-hand view of how solid your structures are, how aesthetically pleasing they are coming up, and where they are moving out of the plan, all in a hurry.

Commercial building management relies on inspection for wear and tear, and the most effective ways to do this are at least once a year.

When a structure begins to deteriorate, it is one of the quickest ways to watch its value do the same. Traditional ways that buildings are inspected can involve precarious climbing up onto the roof, and other parts of the structure using scaffolding or a harness.

The element of time-saving is one that drones really make a difference with here, and use of drones in the construction industry have helped by leaps and bounds. Images captured during the inspection are very easy to use in modelling, and the rates to hire a drone pilot are less than what you can expect to pay to ensure the person who would have had to manually scour the building or site.

Construction drones are also used during inspection to give actual investors a better look at what they hold a stake in if someone very important to the operation is in a different city or state, images of current property that will soon be repaired can be streamed live. This up-close approach really helps with making investors and clients feel as if they are a part of the process, even when they may be miles away.

Pilots for drones used in construction working under the Federal Aviation Administration Section 333 Exemption are absolutely required to have insurance. One of the dangers of hiring subcontractors is that sometimes they will even send out someone else to the job site if they get busy, and you want the operator on site who is properly bonded.

Another thing to ask for from those who will be helping you with inspection footage is for videos of past jobs they have completed. It is generally a good idea for construction drones surveyors and operators to at the very least have a 1080p on up to a 4K video camera, which allows you to properly examine damage to structures in greater detail.

Several hundred feet tall TV towers on the edge of a job site was one object that was tackled to be visualized by a team using drones. For an area that covered 78 acres, the flight time was around one hour and 15 minutes, and they captured 997 images.

The survey helped deliver an ortho-mosaic map, elevation map, and 3d model on a cloud to the client, who was more than impressed with the accuracy and depth presented. It would have taken a team of two surveyors an entire week by using traditional methods, and it only took the drone operators with a Phantom 3 an hour and 15 minutes to cover the area in depth.

Better Safety Records

With your eyes & ears in the sky, all the time, you will be in a much better position to locate that unstable pillar, precariously balanced labourer and not deep enough excavations. If you keep up the drone – survey, gradually you will build an excellent safety system and your reputation.

Drones in construction can do a great job of hovering over a location that is too dangerous for a worker to get to and can save lives by monitoring workplace conditions in areas that are very hard to reach. In manufacturing plants, drones can help with reconnaissance, sending images of what kind of conditions can be expected before a worker is dispatched.

Plant reliability and maintenance is one area of safety code that can benefit in many ways with the use of drones in the construction industry. It is possible to send images back to onlooking engineering and maintenance teams, and identify issues right away that may lead to a malfunction or breakdown in the future.

Accidents and injuries are the main items that managers are looking to prevent by using construction drones to improve safety. Since robotic use is already at an all-time high in plants, there may be even more activities in the future that are deemed risky pulled off successfully with their use. Drilling and welding can take place on the open seas, in dangerous caves, and other locations that pose serious threats to safety.

When managers are concerned with safety issues, the old way of doing things was to walk around the plant and take a look. It seems sensible because a human pair of eyes and ears on the floor will be able to quickly recognize any problems with safety.

But with the use of a drone and monitoring device, safety managers can see what is happening in real time, and which areas can use drastic improvement.

Firms that use prefabrication or modular construction have benefited greatly from using drones in construction to increase productivity and minimize the risk of mistakes that could be very costly in the long run.

When you can use drone imaging to show erection sequences, crane locations, and perimeter security like fencing, you can view them repeatedly to pinpoint where projects begin to get congested, and even predict where hazards could pop up.

The use of 3d visualization can drastically aid those who are looking to check the reach of a crane with construction drones. You can continuously go over data that will help predict the risks in case a load falls, or to access areas that the long and low reach of a crane may collide with.

Making very informed decisions without having the risk of being onsite during a weather issue or period of social unrest could be very beneficial as well.

According to a closely-watched Usability assessment by Georgia Tech, being able to skirt around a job site quickly with the use of a drone can improve the efficiency of a manager in charge of safety by up to 50 per cent.

At a closer glance, this is not surprising: analyzing areas of risk and safety issues are much easier in real-time, and the days of an old-fashioned clipboard for data have long been over in many plants.

Keeping the Project On-track, On-Budget

By identifying the parts of the project that are going off-track, having the ability to prevent any causalities, rigorously monitoring your job sites; you will be much better prepared to remove any additions to project time and cost.

As many project managers know, real-time control is some of the most difficult to keep a handle on. The more information you have at your fingertips, the more control you have over your project ultimately. If something goes wrong on the site, you will lose drastically less money if you can correct the problem very quickly.

Making crucial decisions about when a project is going to close is essential to the stoppage of cash flow that can literally bleed during this juncture of the building.

Using drones allows you to have more real-time detailed control over the project, so you can keep track of the progress visually, and achieve closure at perhaps a quicker time than previously estimated.

Looking back to see what went well on a project and what did not is one of the most important ways to figure out what can be done in the future for profitability, and will help the manager figure out how to execute other projects more efficiently.

Looking for drones construction applications can always shape the next step in your business massively, and help you as the boss keep your eyes out for other ways to generate revenue, and other ways to make things operate at a higher standard.

We are now absolutely in a time period where nearly everyone in major metropolitan areas has caught on to just how useful drones can be. As regulations change in the near future and construction site managers get on board with new uses and applications, seeing drones buzz around the new construction site in your city will be just as commonplace as the sight of hard hats themselves!

Reblogged from: 

Anderson, B. (2015). 6 Great Uses for Construction Drones - DronethusiastDronethusiast. Retrieved 9 November 2018, from

Wednesday 14 November 2018

What skills do I need to develop to become an effective engineer?

There are many qualities and skills an individual needs to become an effective engineer and to have a successful career. Engineering is dynamic so it needs people who can work across disciplines, with others, and continually adapt to new challenges.

Good technical skills are of course also essential. In preparation for an engineering career, you should focus on developing a variety of skills, including:

Technical Competence: The focus is on having the necessary technical skills and ability to carry out your job. While an engineering education will provide the foundation of this knowledge, as technology is constantly advancing you will be expected continue to learn throughout your career.

Communications Skills: To be an effective engineer you must have the ability to communicate, both in writing and orally. Focus on your writing skills, consider developing a competency in a second language and also develop your public speaking skills. A good communicator has influence and most importantly, gets noticed.

Leadership Skills: Leadership is more than just the position you’re in, it’s about action. An example where you will need leadership skills is during project management where you will need to plan, set priorities, delegate, make decisions and to influence people. To help you develop these skills get involved in a civic, school, professional or church group as a volunteer.

Teamwork: To be an effective engineer you will need the ability to work in a team environment. Volunteer activities will also allow you to gain experience of team working. Problem-solving: As an engineer, your job will be to come up with the answers and to do that you need the ability to think, to look at the issues and come up with a solution. Good engineers are therefore to be able to think critically, analyze options and to create great solutions to problems that they have not encountered before.

Summary: To be an effective engineer you don’t need to master each of these qualities and skills. The successful engineer is well-rounded, with knowledge of the key skills and an ability to apply them when needed. It will take effort on your part, but the fun is in the learning and the reward is accomplishing your tasks and seeing the impact your work will have on society.

Reblogged from: What skills do I need to develop to become an effective engineer?. (2013). TryEngineering. Retrieved 3 November 2018, from

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Augmented Reality in Construction Lets You See Through Walls

Imagine you’re part of a crew constructing a new office building: Midway through the process, you’re on-site, inspecting the installation of HVAC systems. You put on a funny-looking construction helmet and step out of the service elevator. As you look up, there’s a drop ceiling being installed, but you want to know what’s going on behind it.

Through the visor on your helmet, you pull up the Building Information Model (BIM), which is instantly projected across your field of vision. There are heating ducts, water pipes, and electrical boxes, moving and shifting with your point of view as you walk along the corridors. Peel back layers of the model to see the building’s steel structure, insulation, and material finishes. It’s like having the comic book–style X-ray vision—and soon, it could be a reality on a construction site near you.

This magic hat, the DAQRI Smart Helmet, is a wearable augmented-reality system being developed for use in industrial fabrication industries—, especially the building and construction industry. Essentially, it allows builders, engineers, and designers to take their BIM model to the construction site, wear it on their heads, and experience it as an immersive, full-scale 3D environment.

Giving construction crews access to this level of multilayered building information would let them effectively see through walls and see spatial relationships better; detect MEP clashes earlier; and in general, allow faster, more informed decisions with fewer errors. “It empowers you to make decisions in the field, as opposed to waiting till the end of your shift to check with your supervisor,” says Roy Ashok, DAQRI’s chief product officer. “It empowers the end construction worker.”

The augmented-reality helmets (which cost $15,000 each in this early development phase) are just starting to trickle onto construction sites as DAQRI begins short trial runs, including a collaboration with Mortenson Construction and Autodesk. As part of a proof-of-concept test, Mortenson used the helmets during construction of the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.

“The BIM model is step one,” says Mortenson’s Senior Director of Project Solutions Ricardo Khan. “The reality is that the value of the model is probably 25 per cent of the real value. The next 75 per cent is connecting the field teams to the rest of the contractual project information in the space.”

The track record for augmented-reality wearables is marred by one notorious flop—but unlike Google Glass, DAQRI is focused squarely on industrial applications. In this arena, slightly goofy headwear like these helmets are readily accepted, and fewer privacy concerns apply.

In terms of hardware, the AR helmets have three different types of cameras that work together to locate users at a specific point in space and interpret the geometry around them. There’s a 166-degree, wide-angle grayscale lens that defines the user’s position in an environment, accurate to one centimetre.

Then there’s a depth-sensing camera (the Intel RealSense) that deciphers the geometry of the space and the objects within it, telling you, “this is a door, this is a window, this is a table,” Ashok says. This awareness allows you to place virtual content and alter a model. It also remembers a “map” of each room that’s created. “It’s almost like a cartography function,” Ashok says. A third, thermal, camera also allows users to map temperature readings onto objects rendered in 3D.

“With the combination of where you are with the visual odometry system and what is around you, you know pretty much everything you need to know about the world,” he says.

The DAQRI helmet’s software design was driven by functional concerns for the unique and relatively dangerous environment of a building zone. An initial idea was to use hand signals, which would be picked up by the helmet’s camera, to wade through its menus—but that didn’t work.

“There are two big reasons,” Ashok says. “One is reliability. The technology is just not mature enough have 99.99 per cent reliability, and because of that, it leads to fatigue.” A construction site is also a bad place to be wildly flapping your arms to highlight an array of lighting fixtures that haven’t been built yet: Hence the second concern about using hand signals.

Due to the showers of sparks, spinning blades, exposed wiring, and tons of metal swinging through the air on construction sites, you want everyone’s full attention on the task at hand and the actual physical surroundings. “Once you pull your awareness away from what’s happening around you, it exposes us to potential hazards on the job,” Khan says.

To address these concerns, the DAQRI team decided the helmets would have to operate completely hands-free, and the engineers settled on what they call a “gaze and dwell system.” A reticule oriented in your field of vision moves as you move your head, “just like a mouse and cursor,” Ashok says. If you hover over a menu item, hyperlink, or model layer for a few seconds, it’s selected. The helmets come with Autodesk BIM 360 out of the box, but it’s mostly up to each company to create its own custom software (which DAQRI supports), because the product’s range of uses is so broad.

Using DAQRI helmets during a project’s construction phase seems like the most intuitive application, but Ashok says it’s worth bringing to a building site on “day one of design” as well. An architect could show his or her model to engineers and builders on-site before construction begins, and they can point out potential issues—when mistakes are far easier and cheaper to fix. The system’s clear visual interface means it could also provide construction crews with step-by-step instructions for punch-list inspections or even for maintenance long after construction is complete.

“AR has far-reaching impacts on how society will interact with information in context to the environment,” Khan says. “For the construction industry, we see it as a needed disrupter to resolve a wide range of business problems, such as increasing safety awareness for the field crew related to just-in-time knowledge. As a downstream value, our customers can leverage AR to dramatically improve operating and maintaining their facility.”

The current incarnation of DAQRI promises to change the way buildings are made, but it still relies on importing a static virtual model of a building and overlaying it with the real thing. The next frontier will be creating a device that can detect components hidden from view and then represent them dynamically to users—whether they are included in the model or not. That truly would bring augmented reality to the cusp of X-ray vision, and the construction industry into a world of in-the-moment material omniscience.

Reblogged from: Augmented Reality in Construction Lets You See Through Walls. (2017). Redshift EN. Retrieved 2 November 2018, from

Sunday 11 November 2018

5 Takes on the State of AR and VR in Construction

In 1974, science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, the brilliant mind behind 2001: A Space Odyssey and Childhood’s End, gave an interview in which he described our modern Internet with eerie accuracy: being able to access bank records, book theater tickets, and more all from a small console (though he didn’t mention smartphones).

Like Clarke’s early predictions of the Internet, the prognostications about the use of augmented reality in construction promise big things: better project efficiency, increased worker safety, and new ways to design structures.

The idea of employing a live “view” of the surrounding environment that can be augmented by computer-generated sensory input has been around for some time—but while it has yet to reach critical mass in the construction industry, it’s not far off. Here are some takes on where AR and VR in construction stand in 2018.

1. Reducing Design Coordination Errors with VR, AR As buildings become increasingly complex—and construction profit margins tighten—adopting AR and VR to detect design coordination errors will become essential, argue Jeff Jacobson and Jim Dray. Whether it’s detecting when HVAC has been mistakenly routed through a space designed for an electrical system or identifying missing elements, AR could help reduce wasteful change orders. By tying clickable annotations into a larger BIM database, construction managers could use smart headsets or high-end phones to add “sticky notes” for both on-site workers and designers back in the office. Read the article.

2. AR, VR, and 3D Modeling: Technology in the Construction Industry As one of the least digitized industries, construction has a lot of catching up to do, which is why the Innovate UK consortium contributed £1 million ($1.31 million) toward AR development. The ultimate goal is to create an Augmented Worker System that will use AR to improve efficiency during every step of the construction process, one that will work hand-in-hand with smart helmets and mobile apps. As author Steve Mansour sees it, the benefits of AR and related technologies are desperately needed in the construction industry, and resistance to their adoption borders on the “nonsensical.” Read the article.

3. How Augmented Reality Will Innovate BIM Visualization Although AR in construction has yet to mature, the technology’s rapid evolution and ability to present BIM data clearly makes it an “ideal visualization platform,” says Kyle Mallinger. From enabling real-time building maintenance information to improving collaboration between construction teams and designers, the combination of AR and BIM will eventually become viable for projects of all scales—and the result will utterly transform the industry. Read the article.

4. Virtual and Augmented Reality in Construction Global construction services company ISG fully embraces AR and VR in order to remain competitive, which is why it uses a laser scanner to record every square inch of a building before closing a project. This use of AR helps the company validate design files and also gives clients and facility operators a permanent record of the building. Meanwhile, the firm is thinking about the future—one in which robotics and AR work together on job sites. Read the article.

5. Augmented Reality in Construction Lets You See Through Walls It might evoke Luke Skywalker training with Obi-Wan Kenobi on the Millennium Falcon, but the DAQRI Smart Helmet doesn’t require the wearer to have the working knowledge of the Force. The hands-free AR device allows users to effectively “see” through walls on construction sites, allowing workers to view spatial relationships more accurately and identify mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) clashes sooner. Currently being tested during construction of a medical centre in Minneapolis, the helmet comes equipped with Autodesk BIM 360. Read the article.
Reblogged from: Five Takes on the State of AR and VR in Construction. (2018). Redshift EN. Retrieved 2 November 2018, from

Saturday 10 November 2018

Virtual And Augmented Reality in Construction

AR and VR technology is changing the world, particularly for organisations prepared to move beyond traditional approaches.

As an industry which relies so heavily on a human workforce, some view the construction industry as being reluctant to embrace advancements in technology.

Seeking to change outdated perceptions, ISG, the global construction services company, demonstrates that cutting-edge technology plays an important role at every stage of the delivery process, most recently finding new uses for Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) in construction.

The key is identifying existing technology or indeed creating new processes and applications that enhance efficiencies and productivity, create safer working environments and help simplify the complexities of construction so the industry is more accessible, accountable and attractive to a millennial workforce.

Creating a safer working environment

Aircraft pilots have learnt how to fly under simulated conditions for years to refine their skills before entering the potentially dangerous environment in which they operate. Similarities can be drawn with the construction sector.

Rather than personnel simply learning on site, ISG is exploring uses for VR for pre-site inductions, identifying key areas of risk in a virtual and safe space.

By creating simulated site scenarios, employees can experience immersive, hands-on training before stepping foot on site. Training can be tailored for all construction activities and through real-time visualisation technology, operatives will only be site inducted once the training has been successfully completed to an exacting competence level.

In addition to its uses in training, VR also can also serve as an invaluable tool for health and safety awareness. Much like a hazard perception test in a driving examination, employees can walk around the virtual site to familiarise themselves with fire exits, facilities and the layout of the building at any phase in the construction programme.

Picturing the finished product

Bridging the divide between technical documentation and the finished product has always been a challenge for non-specialists within the construction industry.

The architect’s fly through and 3D model started the process of democratising the complexities of the construction process so that non-specialists could visualise what a building or space would look like, but VR and real-time visualisation technology have moved this forward considerably.

ISG has developed an in-house app that not only provides rich, life-like renders of completed projects, but enables individuals or groups to walk through and interact with space in an infinite number of ways.

This is a highly important consideration given the differing roles of key decision makers involved from the client side on construction projects – ranging from HR to IT personnel, as well as the core traditional client roles. The construction industry must find a way to effectively communicate with all of these functions clearly and concisely to ensure project expectations are understood and met from the outset.

It is here where, as an extension of the use of real-time technology, VR can not only play an effective role in communicating design changes, but also in demonstrating the impact of value engineering exercises on the completed scheme, as well as evaluating alternative solutions.

Before a contractor has stepped foot on site, design changes can happen in the virtual world and not in the physical space, where costs and time delays can quickly mount up. While VR is particularly advantageous in the pre-construction stage, AR comes into its own once the project is underway. Using a smartphone or tablet, technical documentation or 3D models are overlaid and merged onto real-time images of the project (through a camera) as it stands on-site to offer a unique perspective. Combined realities, like these, prove to be a very powerful tool as images reveal and explain a site situation far better than words.

One of the company’s most recent investments is a laser scanner. Prior to wrapping up a project, the laser scanner is used to validate the design installation and gives the client and facilities team a permanent record of the building. Traditionally, this would have been accessible via desktop computer, but now it is transformed into an app for smartphone or tablet, enabling the user to access the data where it is needed most.

In the case of a failed light fitting, for example, the facilities team can use the app to ‘see’ the ceiling specification and maintenance information, allowing them to fix the problem without causing any unnecessary damage.

What’s next?

While the construction industry has taken great steps forward with the adoption of new technology, the future is dynamic with endless opportunities for those organisations embracing a non-traditional approach.

Simon Spink, Visualisation Manager at ISG, comments: “For the graduates coming through, technology has been a part of their every-day lives for as long as they can remember – why wouldn’t they want to exploit it to its full extent at work? They find it surprising that technology isn’t more widely used in the industry. It’s not that the industry is reluctant – change is happening, even if it isn’t rapid.”

“VR and AR are rapidly developing fields, with the technology moving at breakneck pace. ISG has already invested in devices such as the HTC Vive and we are exploring new ways to leverage the technology we have, but it’s important to keep an eye on the latest tech as it emerges. Only then can we remain at the cutting edge.”

Mark Norton, Head of BIM at ISG, added: “For technology to be successful, it must be intuitive. At ISG, we have the ‘two-minute’ rule – if we can’t get to grips with how to use something in two minutes then it is no good to us. Nobody is going to use something if it doesn’t come naturally to them.

“Ideally, new technology should also be compatible with what people are already familiar with. This is one of the reasons why, where possible, we have opted for software which is compatible with smartphones, for example.”

“In terms of what’s next? Over the next five years, robotics will play a bigger role. At the moment, these devices are manually operated, but it won’t be long before they are moving around sites independently.”

Reblogged from: Virtual And Augmented Reality in Construction - Minutehack. (2018). Minutehack. Retrieved 2 November 2018, from

Friday 9 November 2018

How Augmented Reality Will Innovate BIM Visualization

Augmented reality (AR) has made leaps and bounds over the past few years. With the explosion in power of mobile devices, nearly anyone with a modern smartphone can experience AR without specialized hardware. Both Apple and Google have created their own dedicated AR software frameworks, ARKit and ARCore, respectively, and have started to offer products with specialized AR chips. AR possesses the ubiquity and value to be used by many different industries. One sector that stands to benefit from AR is BIM -- building information modelling.

BIM technology affects many different industries, including architecture, engineering and construction. While there are many nuances and facets to BIM, it can briefly be described as a way to visualize, manage and coordinate data about a building or other kind of construction project. Imagine a scale model of a building, but with the ability to identify every component, every material and every foot of wiring. Companies like Microdesk help these industry professionals leverage BIM software and provide services to analyze data from their assets, facilities and processes to help improve their reliability, reduce downtime and improve quality and efficiency.

Modern BIM software, like Autodesk BIM 360, allows data to be easily shared between organizations and individuals. The key stakeholders of a construction project, from the architects to the engineers, the foremen to their workers, are all working from the same plan. Consistency is crucial for the effective construction of buildings and large infrastructure projects. AR's ability to present the data in a clear and straightforward manner makes for an ideal visualization platform.

While I'm by no means a BIM expert, I do have experience working closely with clients on augmented reality projects. My company maintains a specialized team of developers and designers who focus specifically on AR and VR mobile applications. This division has helped create applications for clients ranging from entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies. The only constant when it comes to AR applications is their forward momentum and drastic increase in quality and scalability as time goes on.

Don Austin, Zco's EVP, told me that augmented reality is only going to increase in importance: “Companies like Google are making huge strides in this area because AR makes data easy to visualize. There's value in using your phone like a lens to see data tailored to your location. Large organizations are looking at the tech and instantly recognizing how it could transform their business model. Even companies that might be averse to buying into cutting-edge tech are exploring AR.”

Curious about how companies are leveraging augmented reality in practice, I reached out to Microdesk. Microdesk is an international company whose collaboration with Autodesk has made them one of the foremost authorities and experts in the BIM solution space. I spoke with Peter Marchese, Microdesk's senior technical evangelist, about how AR has the possibility to shape and change BIM:

“I do believe that as [augmented reality] becomes more available, it will shape how the BIM data and information is used and consumed, especially on the construction and manufacturing side of things. I feel the real power of AR will be a boost to facilities and construction, especially when connected to real-time data from a connected IoT. It has the capability to make jobs safer, more efficient and productive, and the pilots that have used AR in manufacturing have proved these claims.”

When it comes to BIM-specific use cases, there are three that are the most prominent and provide value to organizations: conveying real-time maintenance information, increasing efficiency and accuracy of plans in the field and the ease of collaboration between key project members when drawing up construction plans.

Real-time maintenance data visualization provided through AR is one of the most useful use cases. Specialized hardware and software kits, like Daqri, allow users to look into a BIM-mapped building's walls in order to identify water pipes, wiring, HVAC components and more. For massive buildings and facilities, this technology is ideal for tracking down specific utilities for routine maintenance, replacement or to address issues if problems occur. Looking through a visor is much more intuitive than relying on conventional building plans or blueprints. Additionally, these kinds of products allow information to be updated in real time, enabling maintenance workers to log detailed notes or descriptions.

Another arena where AR is helping push forward BIM is on the job sites of projects that have begun construction. With just a tablet or a smartphone, engineers, labourers and supervisors are able to visualize elements of the project on demand. This ensures that collaboration between different on-site disciplines, like electrical and plumbing, are able to communicate and collaborate clearly and effectively. With BIM-backed AR apps, questions about what materials are being used, where, or how something should be installed, are addressed before any problems or conflicts arise.

The last element I want to discuss is the intuitive and accessible nature of AR-visualized BIM in the field. When BIM models are rendered through the lens of an AR application, it becomes a simple process of pointing your device where you want to inspect. When users are collaborating with people, clients or those not necessarily from engineering or construction backgrounds, this kind of visceral and immersive experience can help convey concepts that would otherwise be hard to express through conventional means.

AR apps backed by BIM data have many other applications and uses among industry specialists and consumers alike. Anecdotally, Zco regularly receives numerous inquiries from companies that are interested in these capabilities. However, I believe that this demand for AR-BIM applications goes well beyond those who have reached out to us. As companies like Microdesk, Autodesk and Zco continue to develop and deploy AR-BIM solutions, you can expect to see construction projects of all scales benefit from this revolutionary combination of powerful technologies.