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By John Biggs
September 4, 2017
Until recently, the only way builders and architects could see their plans in action was on paper or computer simulations. But now, thanks to mixed reality, they can get a holographic, interactive view of their layouts or conceived structures like never before, simply by donning a pair of futuristic goggles containing sophisticated software, which overlays their vision on top of the real world, virtually. It’s like something out of a science fiction movie, but it’s very much reality and is likely coming to a construction site near you.
Microsoft’s HoloLens is perhaps the best-known name in the mixed reality space, and the implications for the construction and building industry are game-changing. Using what is, in essence, a self-contained computer system worn on the face, it’s now easier than ever to see your designs come to life, or make quick tweaks or major overhauls to them in a matter of minutes or hours instead of days or weeks, interacting with holographic images just as you would a real-life object.“We’ve been on a decades-long journey to make computing more personal, and mixed reality is a logical extension of that path. We went from punch cards, to character based interfaces, to graphical interface, to touch, voice, pen, and gestures. Bringing computing into the 3-dimensional world that humans have always existed in is the next step in making computing truly more personal,” A Microsoft spokesperson said in an email.“Mixed Reality technology such as HoloLens and Windows Mixed Reality devices enable users to interact with holograms in the same ways that they interact with other physical objects, which aligns more closely to our natural instincts for communication.”
Products like HoloLens that utilize mixed reality enable changes to be made on the fly to everything from room design and layout to structure and everything in between. By merging virtual reality with actual reality, builders are given the freedom to augment their designs and plans with ease without costly redraws or creating new renderings from scratch. This will save time and effort in a way never before seen as buildings transition from concept to execution.The technology utilizes voice and gesture controls to make changes to a design within the software, adding a totally new dimension to the building process. Voice commands can navigate to and select apps that help complete tasks and execute commands of the wearer.“Today, Microsoft HoloLens is used by developers, and it’s in pilot or active deployment at many organizations around the world, including some of our commercial partners. However, the potential for mixed reality is limitless, and we continue to see new and innovative use cases across a variety of industries and verticals on a regular basis,” says the Microsoft spokesperson.As for pricing, considering what is possible with a system such as HoloLens, the barrier to entry is surprisingly low, according to Microsoft.“While Microsoft HoloLens is focused on developers and enterprise scenarios today, we are excited to see the capabilities of Windows Mixed Reality harnessed by a variety of devices to fulfill a range of budgets and requirements. We expect our partners to build devices ranging from $300 to $3000, including tethered, untethered, fully opaque and transparent displays, giving our customers choice to fit their unique lifestyles.”
For a more detailed look at how HoloLens is transforming the construction industry, check out these case study videos that show how design professionals, engineers, architects and more are improving the collaboration process through Autodesk software, and how Trimble, a Microsoft partner, is helping architects and construction industry professionals do their jobs better.
If you liked this article, here are a few more you might enjoy:
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