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Augmented Reality Brings BIM to the Job site

Augmented reality is one of the most exciting technologies of the past ten years, nevertheless, you hardly hear talking about Augmented reality in Construction. Things seem to be changing. 

Over the years, Building Information Modeling (BIM) has gained acceptance in the design and construction industry. Industry enthusiasts have represented building plans in various forms such as 3D, schedule integration (4D), Cost analysis integration (5D), and inclusion of maintenance information(6D).


Despite the investment in BIM by construction companies, the industry hasn’t largely capitalized on the use of the technology on fieldwork ignoring the significant impact it could have on projects in terms of cost and schedules.


Most contractors make use of BIM in the office or off-site, leaving the field personnel with 2D drawings which leads to biased interpretations and mistakes. In other words, BIM is yet at the projecting door. We need to move BIM to the job site. The field personnel needs all the detailed information and graphic representation for maximum efficiency. In diverse areas of construction, we should utilize BIM as the primary source of information on the project site.

BIM Taipei Pop Music Centre

THE GAME CHANGER

To solve this problem, industry enthusiasts have developed various techniques to bring BIM data to the job site. These processes will bring overall efficiency to workflow and quality of construction.
Some of these processes include:

• 3D design models
• Field drawings generated from a corresponding BIM
• Computerized survey outline from BIM geometry
• Field tablets enabled with BIM display.
• “Augmented reality” technology

Of all the new technologies seeking to exploit BIM data out in the field, perhaps the most exciting is AUGMENTED REALITY (AR), which enables the co-location of digital and physical data in a single medium. Using hand-held projectors or ruggedized field tablets with special software to assist in tracking and registration. AR now enables the overlay of detailed 3D BIM information onto the physical project site in real time and at full scale. With AR, field crews can now see the model in context without needing special skills to operate a computer or sophisticated BIM software. Example, an electrician equipped with a holographic headset, can see, in Star Wars fashion, exactly how the planned wiring will appear when installed correctly, and what that same area will look like once the piping has been installed the following week.

Augmented reality is one of the most exciting technologies of the past ten years, nevertheless, you hardly hear talking about Augmented reality in Construction. Things seem to be changing. 

Over the years, Building Information Modeling (BIM) has gained acceptance in the design and construction industry. Industry enthusiasts have represented building plans in various forms such as 3D, schedule integration (4D), Cost analysis integration (5D), and

When AR is fully implemented, a construction job site will have a BIM-based digital twin that resembles the job site down to the exact detail. Headsets and other information collection devices will constantly update the model. If, in the above example, the pipefitter had already completed his work ahead of schedule, the electrician would be aware of that, and any possible repercussions, before arriving at the job site.
In recent years, industry experts are exploring how AR can successfully support common field tasks such as:

• Intuitive visualization of design models in context
Layout and installation
• Quality control and inspections
• Illustrating the location of concealed work
• Commissioning and facilities operations and maintenance

Safety Benefits of AR

• Risk reduction: If you’re doing a renovation, the ability to overlay a proposed design on top of the existing structure has a lot of value. Does everything that is proposed feel like it fits? How confident are you in the design that’s been handed over to you?

AR is also being used to improve safety programs and make them more efficient – the two-way flow of information makes it easy for a safety officer to be aware of hazardous situations as they arise, and to instantly warn workers who might be in danger, or shut down a work area if necessary.

NEXT STEPS FOR AUGMENTED REALITY

AR is expected to soon be widely deployed in areas such as healthcare, education, manufacturing, and navigation, assuring that the technology will mature and prices will drop. However, AR requires a well-populated BIM database, and data collection — no matter how efficient the methods are — requires commitment from many players.

AEC firms are currently soliciting the assistance of software and hardware developers to improve the ease of use and practical application of AR on construction project sites, as well as lobbying those who develop BIM applications to integrate AR into their standard offerings. This won’t be just about visual information; workers will be able to talk — through interfaces like Apple Siri or Google Smart Speaker — with automated smart agents that “know” who the worker is, and what information is needed to do the job correctly. AR can integrate with BIM on both smartphones and tablets. In the future, AR might come in glasses like the Google X Concept. 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.

Conclusion

Today, augmented reality is still largely experimental in construction, and prototype systems are not yet robust enough to allow widespread adoption on all project sites. But by continuing to develop, improve, and apply AR tools on pilot projects, this rapidly evolving technology can be made to work for the benefit of our entire industry.

It is possible that the next generation of augmented reality could completely revolutionize the way we construct our built environment, eliminating tape measures and paper plans. Eventually, AR could provide facility managers with the “ultimate stud finder” to leverage the BIM model in on-site facility operations and maintenance.