VR and AR in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction industry are becoming ever-more useful and exciting. Prices keep dropping and the technology keeps evolving, leading us to the point now where every architect, every contractor, every engineer, and so on, should have some AR and VR tools in their kit.

 

These technologies are fast transforming the way professionals in our industry create, communicate, and experience projects. Being able to immerse oneself in architectural designs, experience spaces being constructed, and view in-depth information on a range of different aspects of the process of bringing a project to life, has breathed new energy into our roles. It’s a wonderful time to be in the industry.

 

There are so many interesting solutions on the scene that it’s hard to list them all. But to give you an overview of which ones you’re likely to want to get your hands on, and which will be most relevant to you, we’ve listed our top five.

 

1.  SmartReality

 

This mobile app uses your device’s camera to overlay an interactive BIM model over your printed construction plan in augmented reality. The result is an impressive 3D visualisation, one you can zoom in on, view stages of the project throughout its development, record images and video, and expose structural layers of the building. It’s pretty ingenious.

 

2. Storyboard VR

 

This free prototyping and visualisation tool isn’t just awesome for architects and AEC professionals. Artists and creators from all disciplines love the immersive take on storyboarding.

 

What can you do with it? Well, firstly you can create and upload environmental maps and transparent drawings from whatever sketching tool you’re already using, then simply select your assets and make your storyboard. Designers can work together, sharing ideas and getting feedback at each phase of the process. It also works rather well as a kind of VR version of Powerpoint, which sounds pretty cool.

 

3. Fuzor

 

Revit-integrating real-time rendering app, Fuzor, offers the ultimate way to collaborate with the construction site. It offers a bi-directional live link with Revit, and users can visualise, annotate, and move around inspecting BIM information whilst changes are synced between Revit and Fuzor in real time.

 

It’s this live syncing that makes Fuzor so very useful. Changes can be discussed and implemented in real time, speeding up projects, saving both time and money in the process. It supports various measurements, lighting analysis, cross section and section cut rendering, colour and visibility filters, clash analysis, and walkthrough video rendering with embedded BIM information.

 

4. ARki

 

Not to be confused with the very similarly named Apple ARKit, ARki is an AR visualisation service for architectural models. It can be used on any Android or iOS device, working in real time to provide 3D models with multiple levels of interactivity that work for both design and presentation uses.

 

3D models are overlaid onto existing 2D floor plans, which is nothing novel on its own. But ARki does much more with its interactive functions, such as its real-time shadow analysis and material selection. Videos of models can be captured and recorded by the user in either movie or 3D still format, and can be shared on social media or by email with ease.

 

5. Pair

 

Pair allows you to choose from thousands of commercially available items of furniture and, using AR and proprietary computer vision, drag and drop 3D models of these items into the real-world space. This makes it the perfect accessory for consumers viewing new properties for the first time. It can even scrub out furniture that’s there in the real-world and replace it with the virtual version in its place.


Though this one is much more for consumers than for the architect, the latter will have equal amounts of fun customising the space they have designed, which can also be useful when presenting.

 

What are your favourite augmented and virtual reality tools that you use in your role? We’d love to keep expanding out this list – so do get in touch!