1 year ago the COVID-19 crisis has hit most of us unprepared, and we didn’t realize how quickly we needed to adapt. For me, it started in New York on March 13, two days after the speech of the president on the situation.
I recall that the six meetings I had on that Friday got moved to video calls. It was the first rather drastic change in my schedule due to the situation. Although we work as an Augmented Reality platform with some of the biggest developers and general contractors, most of my meetings on that day were with manufacturers of doors and windows, as well as raised access flooring vendors. They were brisk to recognize the situation and realized that lots of their processes around sale and installation would need to go remote. The weeks that followed were surreal for most of us, with many construction workers and window salesmen getting laid off, and NYC becoming very quiet.
Augmented Reality Replacing Physical Contact in the Real Estate and Construction Industry
With my team, we knew that we had to act quickly. We started to organize 30-40 calls per week, discussing AR in AEC and Real Estate thoroughly , which proved relatively easy as people found themselves at home. We started asking what they missed most and how they plan to get to their sites and customer locations.
The retail door and window sales almost stalled, with it actually stopping completely in New York. The construction sites operated in restricted regimes. Our biggest task as a Proptech company was to enable our partners and clients to get back to their jobs and try to replace what was now missing – the physical contact. Doors and windows are just a small example of what can be sold and measured remotely – all installations and even entire modular buildings can be visually inspected remotely through our AR app.
Construction and real estate companies were facing very similar issues not being able to visit construction sites or move on with selling and renting.
We have interviewed hundreds of real estate, VDC and field professionals to be able to reflect the post COVID-19 needs of the industry into the AKULAR app. Here is what you can be looking forward to trying out with the AKULAR App.
AKULAR : New AR Features for Real Estate and Construction Projects
Our new app that came out amid the COVID-19 lockdown rapidly prototyped several new features that immediately addressed the issues caused by the “new normal”:
- Remote 3D model presentations through augmented images
- Public presentations for people to experience the property anytime and on their own, without unnecessary gathering (watch a short video) for precise visual inspection on site and sharing of feedback remotely (laying out work, tracking progress, coordinating within a remote team, as built vs 3D plan quick comparisons)
- Simple Google Maps based geolocation of 3D model on site using GPS
- In the AKULAR app, this is intuitive and similar to how you call an Uber
- In the AKULAR portal, this is enabled through Google Maps integration
- Watch a short video
- COVID-19 compliance zones and designated stairways visualization to enable better compliance enforcement and documentation for liability
- Enabling of model versions to view different MEP layers and progress tracking for invoicing purposes
- Real time precise measuring of the 3D model and all 3 axes in the field helps remote installations, used by window, door and floor manufacturers
- Social media triggered 3D model presentation for better external stakeholder or client engagement. Watch a short video
- Brand new AKULAR portal is added with geolocation and a 3D model preview where users can now log in through an existing Google and/or Facebook account
- Enabling of multiple views and collaboration features between the app in the field and the portal in the back office
- Asset bundles and other file downloads available for further integration
- 3D model Web GL view is enabled for remote presentations and social media posts
- 3D model adjustment features that help remote presentations:
- Transparency of the model toggle allows field staff to precisely calibrate the model in semi-transparent mode and demonstrate the real size naturally, edge to edge
- Shadows and ambient occlusion are added for a more realistic / render like viewing experience
- Reflection probes are added to reflect the number of different skyboxes to represent various environments and light conditions (very own reflection spheres can be added based on drone images on demand)
- View from the buildings can be enhanced by spherical panorama pictures
- Animations of the 3D models can be added on demand, typically used for modular construction, sequencing, 4D, and more
- Ability to add and share snapshots and comments or notes – this can be done within the device but also syncs to the server
Rise of Augmented Reality in AEC
All these features have been received very well by the industry, with hundreds of real estate development and construction professionals starting to test the app in the past month. The uptake of remote 3D model presentations and usage of 3D models on site have been evident. According to a research carried out by Unity 3D and AEC Next in November 2019, only 19% of the industry were using 3D models for presentation and coordination purposes, and about 50-60% were planning to start in 2020-2021. We feel the current situation has accelerated this uptake by an order of magnitude.
Watch our latest Global Proptech webinar, where dozens of industry experts asked questions about the innovative use of AR in the field.
Author: Martin Rapos, Co-Founder at AKULAR
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