A 3D Vision of the Future for Construction – 3D visualisation

The use of software to create a detailed, life-like representation of objects that can be easily manipulated and altered and finally communicated to others is now commonplace within the design. However, new design tools are now further altering and improving the way the architectural and construction industries operate. Innovations in 3D visualisation are becoming a truly useful tool for collaboration and real-world AEC environments and not just a toy for gamers. Our AEC design specialist Andy Laycock attended the Construction Industry Summit North and was impressed by the technology being wielded in the industry.

Last month I spent a day at the well-attended and informative Construction Industry Summit North (#csn2017) at Salford University. The event is one of the largest property and construction events of its kind outside of London and focused heavily on how the Government’s industrial strategy, regional devolution and the affordable homes programme will shape the North’s property sector in the years to come.

One of the exhibitors at the event was one of the UK’s leading contractors, Skanska. At the event, they were demonstrating several VR and AR headsets and allowing attendees to have a go with them. Having spent some time using the HTC Vive and been impressed, but not completely bought into the experience, I wanted to have a go with the Microsoft HoloLens.

The experience was superb. I can only say that I am completely sold!

3D visualisation

The HoloLens is heralded as the first self-contained, holographic computer, enabling users to engage with digital content and interact with holograms. The combination of being able to look around and manipulate the model environment and the reassurance of being able to see and move around the real world without the feeling of isolation was a perfect mixture for me.

With this technology, I can see whole design team meetings on the site could become a thing of the past.

All parties would be able to meet in the virtual model, created by laser scans of an environment built from images using photogrammetry software (such as Autodesk Recap) and discuss plans. The virtual model would only take one person to create and would form part of their daily/weekly to do list, whilst also creating an incremental record of the build.

All involved would have access to the same ‘real-time’ information, enabling them to make informed design decisions.

To give an even greater impact to this method of working, the BIM model could also then be superimposed on real-world information. The time-saving in travelling alone would quickly pay for the hardware/training and extra time on-site!

These new developments in AR and VR, I believe, could trigger a major step-change in the way we deal with our built environment!

3D visualisation and software

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