• Maret Thatcher

BIM + AR - Bringing Construction Data into Augmented Reality

When it comes to Augmented Reality in construction, it's all about seeing your 3D data in context. And not just the models--its their metadata that becomes visible in AR. (OooOOOOOoo.)


So how do you transform a BIM model on your desktop into an interactive, data-rich Jobsite Hologram? And how do you model when that model is seen in AR?



Getting your BIM Model AR-Ready


Bringing BIM into AR means your model will be used and viewed in 3 dimensions--not just the 2D construction drawing. You'll want a clean model, nicely labelled because all that BIM work is more valuable and visible than ever.


Here's what you should think about:


1. Make Metadata Matter. When you're applying the metadata to your project, think about who might be looking at it and when. Do you need to check for particular part codes? Bring 'em in and properly associate them.


2. Keep it in the Family. When you make a custom family - make sure it's put in a correct category--of it's somewhat ambiguous, group it with the elements that will be inspected on the same walk through. Since your labelling matters, make it something that a worker on the jobsite can toggle on and off on purpose.

An example: Bathroom fixtures without plumbing? You might want to inspect their blocking at the same time as the sink blocking. So put them with plumbing fixtures.


3. Consider model Complexity. Watch out for highly-detailed manufacturers models. These models are often far more detailed than is needed for AR. Adjust visibility detail levels in Revit when you export your model for faster-loading, more efficient models.



How do I get my BIM into AR?


It's DIY or Buy.


DIY or Custom Builds - We know a lot of construction companies with in-house developers that can bring projects into Unity and send their builds to XR. This can be a great way to dip your toe into the world of AR and introduce the concepts of jobsite holograms to your team. For more on this check out classes by Logan Smith on Linkedin on Unity for the AEC industry. The downside to custom is the time between need of the application and its development.


When evaluating AR software or “in-house” DIY solutions consider the ease and cost of getting your project data into the application and in keeping it up to date. If you want to see your BIM holograms consistently throughout the project with out a lot of pre planning, think about a purpose-built solution like Argyle.


Argyle works through Revit plugin - just a few familiar clicks, and your entire BIM project is in the Azure cloud - ready to be grabbed by authorized devices.



Video: How to bring Revit model into AR with Argyle Plugin.



I’ve got my data in AR, now what? Is it a 2-way street?

Chances are you’ll want to do more than just visualize your project data on site. You’ll also want it to communicate with your BIM tools, project management software, and even just text and email.


Make sure your application gets the data out of the device and into other formats to be shared with

stakeholders. Whether it’s the QA checklist or the AR as-builts, choose AR software that augments your workflow--not just with holograms but with efficiencies.


If you’re creating in-house applications, design your application to solve a problem and AR + BIM becomes a major project tool. Here's how to make custom Quality Assurance Checklists in AR. (Video: Revit Plugin - how to Make a Checklist in Argyle.)


What do I need to know about optimization?

Augmented Reality is processing a lot of data about the world around it PLUS your model. And my guess is your BIM model is not small. The software you are evaluating should be pre-optimized for you and your workflow.


In other words--we get it. Your files are huge.


Argyle is pre-optimized for your workflow, allowing you to upload your entire model--why? We know you want to be able to open your device anywhere on the jobsite and see the holograms for that location.

When you’re making in-house AR solutions, consider simple solutions for reducing the size of your BIM model--looking at only the layers and elements you want to see, or breaking the model into chunks.


So far in this series we've learned the very basics of what AR is, experienced it first-hand on our devices, and now how know how to get data in and out of the experience.


How that experience looks and feels natural to the real world environment is related to Alignment, persistence, and tracking.


NEXT UP: How it all comes together on the jobsite. We'll introduce the AR concepts of Alignment, Persistence, and Tracking. And what you need to know about those concepts when evaluating AR Software for your jobsite.


Until next week,


Maret.


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