Pokemon Go: Teaching us BIM?

There is nothing like a hugely successful global gaming phenomenon to throw light onto developments in the built environment.

Earlier this week, Tom Ravenscroft, BIM+ Editor wrote about five lessons the built environment can learn from Pokemon Go. An interesting read and one that has got us thinking on what this really means for augmented reality in construction. http://www.bimplus.co.uk/technology/five-lessons-bui2lt-environ5ment-lea7rn-pokemon/

Whilst catching a Pikachu won’t help much with cold rolled detailing, the idea of teaching and understanding augmented reality really could, and if nothing else it has made a piece of technology mainstream, filtering into people’s palms and exciting masses of people with the idea of what the future could hold.

Earlier this year, Autodesk announced plans to make 3D models created in a selection of its software programs compatible with Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality (AR) technology, and last year, two augmented reality apps, downloadable to iOS and Android have come into the public domain. Augment, an American app allows users to overlay building plans, marketing materials, and other 2D collateral on a 3D BIM model. Lindsay Boyajian, marketing manager at Augment says “One of the hardest things [in encouraging adoption] is education”, “A lot of people aren’t even aware of AR. They think it’s hard to use”. This is exactly where Pokemon Go comes into its own. We are unwittingly training an entire generation to accept augmented reality as a norm, Pokemon Go, albeit a very simple form of the technology, is providing an educational platform in its own specific way.

Another app which has utilised augmented reality for the built environment is Visidraft, again a US firm. They have created an iOS app which allows all involved in a project to see building products and other elements within a 3D CAD model of a space. The app is compatible with models from AutoCAD, Revit, Trimble’s SketchUp, Nemetschek Vectorworks, and Graphisoft’s ArchiCAD. Because it can overlay BIM models it allows all involved in the project to clearly see and communicate on all aspects of the buildings design and construction.

Even a few days ago, Apple’s own CEO Tim Cook made a comment on his vision for the future of augmented reality off the back of the Pokemon Go phenomenon. He told investors that augmented reality is going to be “huge” and that Apple is investing in the technology.

The idea of 3D overlays is not a brand new concept, it has been used in design and draughting for a few years now, what is new and exciting for the highly useful technology is accessibility. Being able to incorporate it into apps that can immediately be used on site and then transfer that information directly back into software is undoubtedly the future.