May 1, 2015

Microsoft and Trimble Bring Augmented Reality to AEC

hololens picture

Microsoft was busy this week at its Build 2015 developer conference in San Francisco. Just months after announcing their own augmented reality headset, HoloLens (for more details on what it is/does, read my coverage here), the company has announced a new operating system. That operating system, Windows 10, includes a full holographic platform that makes it possible to turn any app into a hologram.

VentureBeat reported that Microsoft showed off holographic video apps that follow you around the room, a Skype conversation, a holographic start menu, a dog on the floor, and a robot projected onto another robot. But the most exciting use they demonstrated is for Trimble’s products.

The conference included a proof of concept demonstration exploring how HoloLens can be integrated with Trimble’s SketchUp, Connect, and V10 Imaging Rover products. Trimble is careful to note that they’ve started working with Microsoft, but no final decisions about product integrations have been made. They also don’t know when the products are going to be available.

Still, from watching the video it’s clear that Trimble is very keen to show off what’s possible for AEC professionals using this holographic technology. If this video shows what’s actually possible with HoloLens and Trimble products, I think we’re in for a whole new era of deliverables and collaboration. I don’t imagine that Trimble will be the only company using the HoloLens for AEC collaboration, this seems like a good sign of things to come.

Trimble explained the proof of concept in an official statement: “The HoloLens device extends interaction with 3D models beyond the confines of a 2D computer screen, creating new ways for the many stakeholders of complex, multi-phase construction projects to visualize, collaborate, share ideas and manage change.”

“Using HoloLens,” they continued, “architects were able to experience their SketchUp models as holograms placed in the real world—enabling them to quickly analyze various “what if” design scenarios in the context of the physical environment. The demonstration also illustrated how using Trimble Connect with HoloLens holographic technology enables remote teams to effectively review and collaborate in order to resolve constructibility issues in real time.”

Microsoft has also announced partnerships with NASA, Unity (the preferred video-game engine of the AEC set), Autodesk, and Disney.

Even though I’ve been following the use of augmented reality in AEC for some time now, this looks like magic.

Check here for a full video of the demonstration.



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