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November 17, 2011

Augmented Reality: Coming to a Building Site Near You
Filed under: Computers in Construction — Tags: — nedpelger

iPads and Android tablet computers differ from laptops because of their touchscreens and their simplicity of use.  When the iPad debuted, I thought it a silly tool that old people might find useful. Wrong again! I now think the tablet computers will change construction more than any technology we’ve seen in years.

If a job site has wi-fi, then anyone on site will be able to use their tablet to access the cloud computing world. In the cloud, all the current project drawings and shop drawings will be available for tablet viewing. All the mistakes that come from working from old drawings can be eliminated. Also, all the mistakes that come from not having access to the information from other trades can go away.

Scheduling can be greatly improved as site foreman get to use their fingers to show who works where when. We all know how much effort goes into most project schedules and how little they actually affect job site decisions. What if that were reversed? That’s a game changer.

Talking to my tech guru Kneal, he mentioned a proof of concept video he recently watched about augmented reality. This is a concept you want to know about. Imagine you have the 3D CAD files for the building you’re constructing on your tablet. When you enter a room and point the rear facing video camera to the walls, the program determines the location in the building by GPS and object recognition software. So the camera scans the wall and records that the electrical outlet is actually installed 6″ away from the planned location (perhaps the studs were installed differently). The screen can then show how the phone and data wiring will fit or need to be changed given the actual conditions.

So this yields not only perfect as-builts but real time screen shot changes of what needs to happen in the field. The technology to accomplish this scenario exists, the challenge will be to figure out how to use it simply and effectively. That’s a challenge I’m embracing.

To quote the wise sage FogHorn Leghorn, “I’m throwing ya pearls here boy” and as shown in the clip below, “Pay attention, boy, I’m not just talking to hear my head roar.”  And my personal favorite from this clip, “Pay attention boy, I’m cuttin’ but you ain’t bleedin.'” I love the clip below of the sayings of FogHorn Leghorn.


If the concept of augmented reality fascinates you, here’s a video Skanska Construction produced that shows the details of what they now use on an office building in Helsinki. 4D modeling rocks.



September 15, 2009

Augmented Reality and the Future of Construction
Filed under: Productivity — Tags: — nedpelger

A carpenter considers the wall she’s about to build and goes a bit fuzzy on the dimensions. She pulls out her phone, points it at the wall and the camera viewfinder shows the background while the internet provides the view of the future wall. She scrolls to menu and finds the dimensions and other attributes. She looks at the wall through her phone and can see the future wall. That is augmented reality.

Sound fantastic? All the pieces of technology are now available on new phones: fast internet connections, GPS, tilt sensors and the last piece of this technology, which recently became available on phones and will soon be widespread, digital compasses. With those pieces of technology, the software knows where you are, which way you point your phone and what angle you tilt it.

The first uses of augmented reality will probably be crowd sourced from Wikitude, a travel guide application. You can point your phone while traveling through Germany, for example, and see the names of landmarks, castles, and other points of interest. As you zoom in, you can find much more information about those items you see. As people around the world add content (like on Wikipedia) imagine the increase of accessible intelligence you’ll have!

We live in a time of change that transcends most of our imaginations. Take some time every month to keep up with the technology. When you fall too far behind, you lose value. If you want to read an excellent article about augmented reality, try this at The Economist.