Building information modeling (BIM) is one of the most important technological developments in construction history. As you’re no doubt aware if you’ve used it, the software helps everyone involved resolve design conflicts and other issues before construction begins. When used to its maximum potential, BIM can also enhance quality, speed and productivity while reducing costs.
Most important, BIM doesn’t sit still. It keeps evolving and offering more dynamic functionality that, not so long ago, may have seemed like science fiction. The latest BIM buzzword is “mixed reality,” which isn’t yet widely used in practice but promises significant benefits not just to the design and planning of projects but to the construction process itself.
Basics of BIM
As you may know, BIM software creates models that facilitate collaboration by enabling parties to view the completed project from different angles and to better understand the spatial relationships between building components. It also incorporates specific materials and other building information into the early stages of the design process and allows the parties to see how various changes affect the project.
Today, BIM can even be integrated with virtual reality technology to create immersive, three-dimensional digital experiences that allow you to virtually walk through a model or construction site without leaving the comfort of your home or office. This technology facilitates collaboration and reduces travel costs.
Mixed reality, as the name suggests, combines virtual reality with the real-world construction site. It allows architects, owners, construction workers and others to walk through a partially completed project and view models overlaying the physical environment, typically using hardhat-mounted headsets.
Mixed reality is a form of “augmented reality,” which superimposes computer-generated images on one’s view of the real world. But mixed reality goes a step further, anchoring those images to real-world objects, ensuring that models are correctly and permanently positioned as the user moves about the project.
The potential benefits of mixed-reality BIM are profound. For example, it allows you to compare plans to work completed to date and to detect design errors before they’re implemented. And by enabling workers to see models overlaid on the job site, it makes the construction process more efficient, avoiding the errors and delays that can result when workers rely on confusing or difficult-to-follow paper plans.
A revolutionary concept
Although mixed reality isn’t quite ready for prime time, it promises to revolutionize the construction industry. So, keep an eye on this technology as it’s further developed and refined.