Beyond the Build


Is Augmented Reality The Next Evolution of BIM?

Last fall, I wrote about getting past the hype of BIM and making it a reality on construction sites. Here is a way we are continuing to use and see BIM beyond the construction drawings. Augmented reality might be useful to you as well…

Augmented reality (AR) is defined as:

“a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.”

In sports, a good example is that yellow first down line seen on tv football games. The view you’re seeing on the field is reality. The line is how that reality was augmented. This same technology can be applied to real estate and construction, not just ESPN.

AR can integrate with BIM on both smart phones and tablets. In the future, AR might come in glasses like the Google X Concept seen here. The idea is to use the GPS in a device to sync current location to a 3D Virtual BIM model. This will give each user the ability to go to a job site and see the future of the construction within the model, from their own perspective. It takes “virtual tour” to the next level.

Taking the wealth of data that BIM provides, the user will have to have the ability to view a proposed 3D model in the actual environment, whether that is in a space to be remodeled, a Brownfield or Greenfield. This will be a huge step forward in bringing BIM to the jobsite and out of the office.

This video might give you a good test drive of what a BIM and AR teaming could look like. Here are a few ways we see this technology being used now and in the future as it evolves:

  • During the entitlement process to share how the “new project” will appear
  • An owner could see how the property itself would look from any vantage point inside or outside the building.
  • The architect or designer will be able walk around the model of the project to view up in the reality of the surroundings.
  • Excavator Operators could view the area of excavation, and the locations of underground utilities.
  • A building superintendent would be able to look behind walls, floors or ceilings in order to avoid damaging waterlines or studs.

We think that this is another step in how BIM integrated will continue to help us across the spectrum of design, entitlements, construction and facilities management.

How can you see augmented reality changing projects and property development?

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.