Augmented Reality (AR) is the latest big thing taking the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry by storm – well it’s trying to, at least.
So what’s the hold up?
There are still a number of technical challenges to overcome before AEC AR can move from an “experience” to a tool that delivers significant operational efficiency. Positional accuracy is one of such challenge, and a big one. Augmented Reality (AR) is taking the AEC industry by storm, well, at least its trying to. There are still a number of technical challenges to overcome to take AEC AR from an ‘experience’ to an operational efficiency tool; positional accuracy being one of those challenges.
What are we doing about Augmented Reality?
Well, for a start, there’s CartoConsult’s non-proprietary and neutral approach. With our recent hires we are working hard to develop geographic information system (GIS) software that work with the latest AR equipment. As ‘open’ advocates and practitioners, whether that is open data or software built on open architecture, it is our natural territory to deliver open AR solutions and location data services to our clients and prospects.
How does this fit in to the overall picture?
The release of Apple’s ARKit has brought AR education mainstream. AR solutions are now far more accessible to a wider range of businesses, with many of our AEC customers arming their field and office staff with Apple devices. This isn’t to say that we’re not going to develop software and location services for the likes of Microsoft Hololens, DAQRI’s Smart Helmet and Smart Glasses, or the Meta2. It just means that the educational cycle will soon be much shorter, allowing our sector to take advantage of the collaborative opportunities presented by AR right now, through a device that does not cost thousands of pounds. Furthermore, our open applications act as enablers: they are designed to help early adopters become comfortable with the latest technology and hardware – technology that we know will be the next paradigm shift for the built environment.
So, specifically, how are we responding?
Key to the success of Augmented Reality for AEC is location data; or rather big location data. CartoConsult are already experts in designing GIS server architecture, cloud hosted services and 3D web visualisations, but to move fully and successfully into AR we needed to be flexible in our approach to recruitment. For instance, we quickly realised that we needed expert 3D Gaming Technology Developers who could not only develop with the latest gaming SDK’s, but could also design a flexible User Experience (UX) along with the User Interface (UI) that comes with that. These guys and gals do not grow on trees, so we took the approach to partner with a university, the University of the West of England in fact. The university is as keen to understand our AEC industry as are we are to understand their gaming expertise. And it’s local to boot.
Innovation is essential to our vision to provide operational efficiency to our customers. We understand that we need to be an agile and flexible company; as agile and flexible as our software and services already are. This is how we continue to deliver the best services for our customers. With this in mind we are currently running two Government funded projects from Innovate UK and the Department for Transport as well as our own independent R & D.
As part of our commitment to ‘open’ we are committed to issuing regular progress updates as we run through these developments during the next 12 months or so.
Be sure to keep an eye on our blog and news feed to see how we are getting on, and please get in touch if you feel we can help with any of your 3D GIS and AR challenges.