Jobsite Holograms - AR in Construction Basics
Updated: Nov 30, 2020
Welcome back Builders and BIM nerds, here we are in part two of Augmented Reality for Construction. Last time it was about trying AR. Now it's time for the Basics.
This post will introduce you to Augmented Reality Basics. What is AR? And why does it matter in Construction?
Now that you’ve tried AR you understand that Augmented Reality shows the real world with digital objects superimposed on top of it.
Where am I? In Augmented reality, You are Here.
In Augmented Reality you see the real world (like the construction jobsite) and digital information (like your BIM models), overlaid three dimensionally on top of it. Unlike VR, which occludes the environment, you continue to exist within it. So walk around. Wave to your co-workers. You’re not going to trip on any cords here.
What devices have Augmented Reality - and what does that mean for the jobsite?
Headmounted vs Handheld Augmented reality. This deserves an entire post! Augmented Reality is headmounted (like the Hololens 1 and 2, Magic Leap) and handheld (like your iPhone, iPad, or Android).
In construction the biggie is the Microsoft Hololens 2 - which is now finally available to anyone with a smooth $3,500. It's certified as safety glasses, but you can also wear additional prescription, safety, or fashion glasses underneath. The display tips up and out of your way when you're not using it. And it's actually, dare we say, comfortable?
At Argyle we're using the Hololens 2 daily. The Hololens 2 is what I affectionately call my face computer-- When I arrive on site, it's like the models are already there for me when I have Hololens 2 running Argyle.
What about Mobile or Handheld Augmented Reality in Construction?
We love the Hololens. But if you're like me, you're not reaching for your Hololens at night when you want to double check that the install went well. Nope. Yours, my, and everyone's favorite computer is the one in my back pocket-- my iPhone.
Have a project with BIM that's ready for AR? To be on Argyle's iOS beta later this year email firstname.lastname@example.org. As an AR display, mobile (phone) AR is not the most technologically advanced, but it's so handy we can't resist bring Argyle to mobile AR devices. Not having to buy a Hololens 2 makes it more accessible to a wider variety of projects and because it is always you, it will also increase the frequency with which we think you'll use your tools to QA your jobsite. Winner winner chicken dinner.
That said, you might want to use your hands when you're building something. And for that the Hololens 2 is your go-to face computer. Embrace it.
Augmented reality devices are not just displays or output mechanisms--they're input mechanisms, too.
Depending on the application, your device can track eye gaze, position in space, as well as interactions that happen with the environment. Imagine holograms are 3D buttons, invisible without the device.
What does AR have to do with Construction?
AR is part of a larger trend in computing--spatial computing. See Jobsite is now a Spatial Computer.
Architects, Engineers, and Contractors are trained to think spatially, and generally spend much of their day communicating their multi-dimensional thinking into 2D documents. OR the inverse-translating the 2D documents into 3D structures for all of us to occupy.
In construction and architecture, spatial computing is a leveler.
It can bring construction noobs up to speed quickly on the jobsite and allow everyone to look at the same building in context without having specialized knowledge--like how to read a huge plan set. Spatial computing lets everyone into the action with more collaboration, better communication, more engagement, and fun.
So how do you get started using AR in construction? Bring your project data into AR. If you're already using BIM, it’s super easy, and it's the topic of next week's post.