In the design and construction sector, BIM has been the topic of conversation for a long time. BIM stands for Building Information Modeling. In other words, it is a digital mapping of physical and functional information about the building, which becomes the source of knowledge and any data about the building.
Visualization of the investment with the use of a 3D model allows to see the final effect of the investment and avoid various design errors where different sectors overlap. Digital twin of the building is also used in the building management, planning the next investment, remodeling works, modernization, or everyday use. Augmented Reality is, on the other hand, a technology that connects the real world with the computer-generated reality, which allows to present digital information in the context of space we are currently in. 3D models can be placed over the image taken with a smartphone camera in real time, or they can be displayed in the form of a hologram on dedicated AR transparent glasses.
Based on the experience we have gained so far, I would like to point out some interesting uses of the Augmented Reality as an extension of BIM technology and present advantages this technology contributes to the design and construction process.
Mapping building space
There is a wide plethora of dedicated Augmented Reality devices available on the market. Microsoft Hololens glasses are a good example of that as they display holographic images in the context of spaces we are currently in. HoloLens can be gesture and speech-controlled, where particular orders can be voice-activated from the application interface. This gives huge possibilities since the device is hands-free. The glasses can also scan space in 3D and record videos. Thanks to this, we can create virtual models of real spaces, dimension them, and complement them adding video documentation Material collected in this way can constitute the base for the creation of a digital representation of a building and document the course of the on-site check of the building. Thanks to the Hololens we can also make a quick count of the amount of paint required for the remodeling as the space scanning is performed simultaneously to its dimensioning.
Visualization of the design documentation in the context of space
Collisions at the meeting point of various sectors are a common problem related to construction works. Thanks to Augmented Reality, the visualization of the design of installations can be done directly at the construction site in the context of the given space. Therefore, there is a greater chance of spotting any possible design errors before the actual beginning of construction works. We can also show the Investor the final outcome of construction works right away, or supervise whether the performed work is consistent with the design.
Modeling of technical installations and interior arrangements
In Augmented Reality, BIM documentation can be not only visualized but also modified or complemented with new elements in real time. Thanks to this, changes to the design documentation can be introduced even during the visit to the construction site. It is also worth mentioning that we can visualize designs of interior arrangements or technical equipment. Spaces may be arranged with the use of ready-made elements or by importing real models scanned in 3D.
The solution may be used in all the phases of the building lifespan – starting from the design through its construction and use. Augmented Reality permits us to visualize the location of hidden installations, which is definitely useful during technical reviews or malfunctions.
Every technical device in the building can also be assigned a maintenance manual which, if need be, may be shared with the person responsible for the technical maintenance of the building. It is also possible to visualize data from BMS or CCTV systems or technical parameters of any device in real time.
Will this new tool turn out to be a miracle cure for the current trouble of the design and construction sector?
Surely not for all of them; however, taking into account the fact that even the most meticulously planned and organized construction investments carry a risk of unforeseen problems, the advantages of using BIM technology together with Augmented Reality may result invaluable. The possibilities such technology offers are truly great – try them today!