Augmented Reality Empowered BIM Set to Change Construction Industry


June 17, 2015 │ Bhushan Avasatthi 

BIM – i.e. Building Information Modeling is one of the latest buzzword that has taken the construction by a storm. This is because the way in which BIM utilizes virtual reality and places it to support every aspect of construction, i.e. design and planning, construction scheduling, 5D BIM for cost estimation, energy efficiency in buildings and facility management is something we could have never thought of some 20 years down the line.

Now, a new technology that seems to have come with a promise that will change BIM and improve the way construction industry visualizes buildings and manages projects. BIM and the building construction in general will get more intuitive, interactive and communicative.

Now why do I say so? Because the next wave is that of augmented reality and it is catching up with the construction industry professionals and BIM experts. And when giants like Microsoft step in- the technology is sure to get big.

Microsoft used this augmented reality and came up with a way to create ‘a realistic, 3-D environment’ with what can be called a break-through technology innovation HoloLens! I was simply left open-mouthed (with surprise, of course); and the engineer within me started exploring all the possible opportunities, where this amazing thing can be applied! Construction industry featured at top in my list!

Construction and Architecture industry! You will ask, why?

Building and construction industry is evolving and evolving tremendously! A plethora of technologies are swiftly making their way into the arena. In fact, we are now blessed with futuristic technologies in form of augmented reality; and so construction industry is all to set to rock!

We, already provide BIM services through Revit - AutoCAD and a lot more to engineers and architects, you will say – So, what is so amazing about Augmented Reality? Such question arises, which is very obvious - So, let me explain you what is AR (for those, who know, it might be a small refresher!)

Augmented Reality - As the name suggests, enhances the reality!It is a live, reproduced perspective of a physical, real-world environment, where all the elements are augmented (orenhanced) by computer-generated sensory input.

Okay, let me put it this way - Virtual reality swaps the physical world with a computer-generated one, on the other augmented reality turns it into an actual world and also adds to it.

Now, the big question - How it helps construction industry and why AR is the future?

Augmented Reality (AR) integratedwith BIM has brought about changes; pleasant changes, I should say!

It enables the designers, engineers and builders by spreading over the surfaceevery minute project details that include drawings, models, or images onto a real(and sometimes, life-like) space.

Architects canfeel their Sketched Up models since, in the form of holograms; therefore, enabling them to scrutinize various “what if” design scenarios in framework of physical environment.

Augmented Reality will be the Game-changer! - How??? Let’s check out:

  • Better Team Collaboration:

Collaboration key to guarantees project success; especially when it has to be with BIM.

Augmented reality encourages interaction among project stakeholders; Okay, here an example, a project manager can perform on-site walkthrough with a BIM overlay. This enables him/her to make quick comparison; detect glitches; thus, there is an instant collaboration, hence problem solved, before it is too late!

  • Adds Dimension to Design Visualization:

Augmented reality empowers you with greater design visualization. With AR applications on your mobile or tablets; you can spread a 3D model to visualize how building elements will appear when constructed.

This extra dimension of visualization gives immense insight into the design details which sometimes are missed with 2D drawing or even the regular 3D modeling.

  • Leverages BIM Guaranteeinga Greater ROI:

With designers and builders getting more inclined towards BIM, incorporated with AR its adoption rates is mostly likely to touch the sky.  A BIM model enables the designers to make quick assessments of construction issues without even having to look away. With the enhanced functionality of AR, these models can be used in a more productive and efficient manner; thus giving greater return on the investment.

Let me give an example - 5D BIM which is about cost estimation becomes more streamlined and accurate with AR modeling. Augmented model of structure give the buildersexact idea the dimensions, size and shape of a particular building element; say a wall. This will make it easy to determine as to what amount of raw material (bricks and cement) will be required to erect it. And needless to say, with such information; there is an almost exact cost estimation; thus, no unnecessary wastage of valuable resources.

  • Allows Supervisor to Monitor Progress:

Overlaying BIM enables the supervisors to view finished project in context with the current progress - Result; it allows the supervisor to get a more accurate picture of building elements and thus monitor the overall progress.

Undoubtedly Augmented Reality is here to stay and stay for long, and sure to change the face of industry - reasons, you just read above!