One of the biggest trends in the AEC world over the last few years has been the rapid implementation across the industry of BIM models, and digital twins more specifically. Although it’s still not a universal addition to companies’ workflows, those who have taken that leap are finding that the benefits impact many different goals they are working to reach. These tools can be used to improve sustainability practices, help mitigate safety concerns on a job site, and create efficiencies throughout the life of a project, with stides continuing to be taken towards broader accessibility as well.
It’s a market that is expected to continue growing at a furious pace, too, with some estimates indicating the market will grow at a 39 percent company annual growth rate (CAGR). As more governments move towards smart cities, and the metaverse becomes closer to a reality, demand will only continue to increase. And with the increasing demand, we are seeing more tools entering the market to provide this technology.
Among those tools is a recently released one from Akular, AKULAR TWIN, a lightweight app that is built on the Bentley Systems iTwin platform. The app met the criteria necessary to receive the “Powered by iTwin” designation, meaning it meets the same standards as Bentley’s own “Powered by iTwin” apps. They join other recent additions to that ecosystem of digital twin developers, including but not limited to Digital Energy’s ODIN and SmartVIZ. The iTwin Platform is “a collection of APIs and services designed to help companies build digital twin applications and bring them to market quickly,” as described on Bentley’s website.
Looking specifically at AKULAR TWIN, the app adds plenty of value for customers with multiple ways to use the tool. Users can utilize the tool both during construction and/or after the building is constructed, uploading a BIM model into the app. Once in, the digital twin is constantly updated with multiple users being able to view updated versions of the model. That ability to collaborate across stakeholders can go a long way towards increasing efficiency throughout a project, and with frequent updates of the model based on data coming in through the model, potential clashes or other issues with the project can be detected early.
This can be done on a number of different platforms, including with phones or tablet and the ability to pinch and zoom on specific aspects, as well as overlaying the model in the real world with augmented reality or walking through it virtually with virtual reality. The app can also provide detailed digital twins for critical infrastructure along with buildings.
That’s actually how Akular started their company, being founded in 2018 as a US-based company in Virginia. After starting out as an augmented reality application for building designers and architects, but eventually evolving into a 3D optimization and visualization platform that can be used to support large-scale construction projects. Since its founding, the company has hosted more than 7000 3D models from 4000 accounts.
Akular CEO Martin Rapos calls achieving the “Powered by iTwin” designation a “massive step forward” for the company, and adds, “For so long now, the real estate and construction sectors have been stuck using last-century technologies, when all other industries are moving forward quickly. Digital twin applications could immediately start saving investors huge amounts of time, money and materials and make their ESG commitments more achievable. They also provide instant transparency to all stakeholders, which benefits everyone.”