Does HoloBuilder Complement 3D Scanning for AEC?
Andrew Wheeler posted on August 12, 2020 |
HoloBuilder and its latest changes are explained.

This article was originally published on August 29, 2017. It has been updated to reflect new information.

HoloBuilder doesn’t have much to do with holograms or holographic computing. It is a supplemental reality capture combination of hardware (inexpensive 360-degree cameras purchased by the user) and an app called JobWalk.

A user can buy a cheap 360-degree camera, mount it to their helmet, enable JobWalk, and record visual data from a construction site. Then, using an iPad, a user can locate image data by tapping on a floor plan, and the captured images will appear.

One important advantage that JobWalk offers over reality capture and 3D scanning workflows is that it enables a team of people to use head-mounted 360-degree cameras along with the JobWalk app to “swarm capture” and cover more ground as a group than they could individually with a 3D scanner,which does not allow collaboration to be captured.

This allows decision-makers to remotely monitor progress on a job site and make any desired changes as the work progresses. They can do this using their mobile phones, which saves time until decisions are made as well as the travel costs associated with being physically at the site.

Using the web viewer and editor, remote stakeholders can annotate captured images from a floor plan, make queries and take measurements.

HoloBuilder Technology

HoloBuilder was built from a proprietary technology stack, and the company’s workers have flexible options for data storage, which allows the company to offer clients on-premise storage or storage in a specific country for legal reasons. The HoloBuilder software also allows users to capture an unlimited number of scans on as many floors as a building or structure may have.

HoloBuilder allows users to document the progress over time of any area that is repeatedly captured and uploaded with a 360-degree camera. (Image courtesy of HoloBuilder.)
HoloBuilder allows users to document the progress over time of any area that is repeatedly captured and uploaded with a 360-degree camera. (Image courtesy of HoloBuilder.)

If a customer uses HoloBuilder for construction documentation throughout a project lifecycle, they can access photos at various stages of the project from a single viewpoint over time (Time Lapse feature), which allows them to clearly delineate progress on-site.

AEC Case Study

Skanksa is a massive global construction company that is taking on the creation of a 185,000-square foot hotel as part of a $52 million job building The Charter Seattle, a Curio Collection for Hilton.

The developer is Widewaters Group Inc., and stakeholders who are distributed over a range of locations, including New York, Atlanta, British Columbia and Washington D.C, are using HoloBuilder for the project’s preconstruction documentation.

HoloBuilder is being used to take many photographs very quickly for pre-pouring inspections. (Image courtesy of HoloBuilder.)
HoloBuilder is being used to take many photographs very quickly for pre-pouring inspections. (Image courtesy of HoloBuilder.)

For the project, slab deck conditions need to be documented prior to pouring, which limits the amount of time that is available.For a job like this, you must know where the stud rails, HVAC, rebar, electrical and plumbing fixtures are on the deck. For areas like this that are going to be poured, you’ll naturally end up with a lot of photos of these specific areas relative to others in the project.

Project engineers from Skanksa decided to use HoloBuilder to document areas during pre-pouring inspections twice a month to coincide with each of the project’s pouring cycle. Using a standard 360-degree camera and the JobWalk app, all 16 levels of the building could be captured and uploaded within a 60-minute site walk. Each 360-degree photo is equal in data to about 10 or 11 photos, and the HoloBuilder project the engineers were building contained particularly useful information about the context of the photos relative to their positions in the building. And capturing 16 floors in one hour with annotated information about the slab, including electrical, mechanical and plumbing information as well as spacing, rebar size and number, is especially useful in the case of a distributed team.

Because of this information, Skanksa could share inspection data, geographical information and weather information in the HoloBuilder project with both the architect and structural engineer.

HoloBuilder for AEC Clients

HoloBuilder cloud is secure, but some companies will not want to use an external cloud no matter how secure anyone says it is, so HoloBuilder includes on-premise functionality as well. You will also soon be able to pull your HoloBuilder project offline and share it with others using a USB—a feature the team says is almost ready for launch.

Users can add unlimited collaborators, but each collaborator will only be able to view the images and won’t see all the annotations or have access to attached documents unless they create their own HoloBuilder account.

Basically, if you’re going to use HoloBuilder, you need to understand that it will augment and not replace any 3D scanning equipment you already have. If you need to expedite site documentation for a distributed set of stakeholders, then HoloBuilder could be a useful tool.

Even if you are using a Matterport 3D camera, which is much less expensive than most professional 3D scanners, HoloBuilder would enable your team to capture a larger area with more team members, provided you have more than one 360-degree camera. The Matterport 3D cameras are not able to tackle the same degree of specificity at a job site with different operators, but one person could take a bunch of 360-degree images and upload them. If I had a Matterport camera, I wouldn’t trade it in for HoloBuilder, but if I had neither, then I might consider the HoloBuilder over the Matterport as a less expensive option.

If you are an interested party, you can try HoloBuilder for 21 days with all the available features to test it out with a group and see if it’s worth the investment. You can try as many different projects as you want to, regardless of the square footage.


If you don’t have a standard 360-degree camera (HoloBuilder recommends the Ricoh Thetaseries), you’ll need to buy one, and you can download the JobWalk app. The real money is in the cloud storage space, and HoloBuilder charges by the square foot for that.

HoloBuilder pricing was previously based on the amount of square footage and charged annually. As of 2020, Holobuilder employs "a custom-tailored pricing model provided upon request, based on the requirements of a customer's individual projects."

Overall, HoloBuilder seems like it would be most useful for pre-production planning documentation—maybe to capture better information for bid proposals during a quick on-site walk-through. Or, during a job, HoloBuilder could be used to help with on-site documentation for inspection or quality control purposes as well as for quickly sending as-built captures to stakeholders and other decision-makers.

After a job is completed, the HoloBuilder project could be used by the facility or building owner to manage the property with the as-built final capture to add insurance and warranty information. HoloBuilder could also be used to make a step-by-step capture that documents every decision that is made, in case any stakeholders take issue with any part of a project’s work.

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