A Practical App for Overlaying BIM Models On-Site with Microsoft HoloLens

Continuing the search for utility in augmented reality.

In the AEC sector, the ability to present visually stunning BIM (Building Information Modeling) designs is crucial to getting a project backed and approved. Can augmented reality play a role in improving the outcome of a project from design to construction? And if so, where does the heart of augmented reality’s utility reside for the remainder of a project?

Why could augmented reality be useful on the job site? After all, augmented reality is just one of several emerging technologies that could possibly alter the paradigm employed by specific teams or whole organizations in order to complete projects faster. The ability to increase the amount of information available to construction crews without cluttering or obstructing their standard practices and plans for the completion of a project is tricky. An augmented reality application would have to strike the right practical tones – it must become a useful tool.

From an architectural point of view, the benefits of experiencing more immersive visualizations are not simply to bedazzle participants and financial backers with digitally overlaid BIM models or completely virtual environments. If you are an architect who uses BIM software such as Revit from Autodesk, this design model acts as a baton passed along different team members, traversing from the conception and design phases to construction and completion.

If a BIM model from Revit could be loaded onto a HoloLens and brought to a construction site, then perhaps the combination could be used during various stages of construction.

The first caveat: If you wear a Microsoft HoloLens, you currently have about 2.5 hours of battery life sustaining a graphics-heavy application. Microsoft HoloLenses cost $3000 per unit. Is it worth having the ability to overlay BIM models on site?

A new software company called VisuaLive3D  believes that owning a HoloLens application that can load BIM models from Revit onto the augmented reality headset is a promising idea, so they decided to build a plugin to do just that. They also released a potentially useful HoloLens application called HoloLive3D.

The plugin works by creating a survey reference point in the BIM model, allowing users to click on the same point from within the HoloLive3D app. That feature enables HoloLive3D to align the BIM model correctly. Users can also create a QR code in the virtual reference point of the plugin and the BIM model will line up the model correctly, as demonstrated in the video.

If you are interested in checking out the HoloLive3D application, it is free to download, but you’ll need to sign up here first. After signing up, you’ll have access to tutorials to help you explore this interesting and practical augmented reality app for Revit BIM models.