Augmented Reality – Construction, Inspection and Sales – Let’s get moving!

Sitting on the highway this morning, not moving, I passed the time between emails and watching a construction team move a lot of dirt. The hard hatted individuals consisted of one gent running a large shovel machine, two people standing on the hill looking down and two workers aligning survey equipment. Watching the process, I wondered why the shovel operator wasn’t looking through a heads up device that was telling him where to dig and how much was left to be completed.

Thinking back to watching a friend design houses, he had moved from building little foam and paper models to exporting a 3D computer model right from his plans. Let’s take that up to today, using what we have available to use with technology now:

Construction: Workers on a building or residence construction team could come in each day and receive their updates electronically. They have a checklist of work to be done and, looking through a single eye lens could see a overlay of what is there now compared to what they need to do. Exact locations of wall structures, outlets, wiring etc. All of this data is directly out of the design software used to create the building drawings with a human or software dividing up the timeline/progress to give to the team each morning.

Inspectors: When a building plans are submitted, the electronic version is distributed to the inspectors. Updates are also uploaded by the construction team so that the visiting Inspector can look through their eye piece or hold up the screen of their handheld to look ‘through’ it to see what was approved versus real. They would know which switch should activate which outlet, what was agreed to for step heights, location of vents and windows, etc…

Selling the dream: Need a bit of empty warehouse for this one. Load up a clients floor plan in their little carry unit hooked to their video glasses and let them loose to walk from room to room in their new location. The can walk through augmented reality walls and into a real wall or trip so some cautions should be used. Otherwise though, they can see if there is enough room to turn around in the kitchen or too far to go from the master bedroom to the kids room. For condos on upper floors, real view images could be put in so a person can see the view their dollars are buying and if they can see any of it from the other side of the dinning room. This is actually not a difficult bit of technology to do and is much better than even computer screen 3D walk through.

There are several ways augmented reality software knows what to show a person. Popular for games is a paper with a box or ID image which the app uses to build the 3D view around. For more advanced systems, location is assigned via global positioning for low precision due to several feet difference is acceptable. For a construction site, beacons would need to be used that have their altitude and location to each other set. Then, personal devices within the area would key off those to know what the user should see with pretty good precision. A house would need two beacons while larger construction like the highway dirt diggers might need three to six beacons to not get into underground gas and power lines.

Who’s in? Let’s get started!