What is Augmented Reality?

You may have heard the term “augmented reality” in recent years but what is it and how is it relevant to architecture?

Augmented reality is when a digital image or sound supplements a real world environment. It is a little like that scene from Star Wars where R2D2 projects the hologram of Princess Leia.

he following is a summary of the applications currently being used to improve communication in the construction industry which we explored for in house use this year.

Revizto

Revizto is a program that brings 3D gaming technology and cloud solutions together to improve communication between the office, site, consultants and clients. Revizto has the ability to produce a navigable 3D environment. As you’re exploring the model you then have the capacity to invite other users to camera share. Together you can tag issues in the model, take measurements, sketch and chat with one another.

It’s Skype meets Paint meets Messenger.

CADGroup – Augmented Reality App

Many of us will have seen something like this before. It’s an app that uses a ‘Real World’ trigger (a 2D image) to reveal an interactive 3D model on your device.

2D triggers can also be used to activate 3D panoramas and product videos.

CADGroup – Asset Visualisation App

The Asset Visualisation app allows users to visualise incomplete or hidden elements during the construction process. Through an iPad, tablet or phone the user is able to ‘see’ existing or planned plumbing and electrical services which may be located behind walls or even underground. For the app to work successfully the user must accurately locate themselves within a space or on a building site.

I couldn’t find a great image for this app. You will have to pretend that this guy can see some underground pipes on his iPad. It’s like Xray vision…

CADGroup – Asset Placement App

This app is more suited for retailers. Through your device you are able to place 3D objects in a space, rotate them and then take photos allowing you to compare products and layouts.

We have had several opportunities to experience virtual reality goggles and walk through a number of 3D environments. In fact we have even invested in some VR Goggles for in house use. We find that Samsung Gear is a more user-friendly device. It’s wireless, allowing you to wear it whenever and wherever you want.

Currently CplusC produces a range of computer generated renders which allows us to clearly communicate the overall look and feel of a space to our clients, however they are typically limited to displaying on a conventional screen at present. We are excited about the next steps we are currently embarking on to produce some truly interactive 3D environments. This will allow us and our clients to better understand our proposals before they are built, in a virtually real environment.