• Augmented reality for utilities, from the comfort of your office.

    Augmented reality offers the possibility of directly querying the physical world just by pointing at it with your smartphone. It displays engineering models or data in context, next to the corresponding asset.

    The potential of AR in engineering is immense. As you’re on-site, you aim at a hydrant, a street drain, or an electricity pole with your phone, and its metadata get displayed next to it. Sometimes though, going…

    • Fri, Jun 28 2019
  • What you Need to Know for Designing Roads, you Learned in the Kindergarten.

    Have you ever designed a road?  I have not.  Most of us haven’t, actually.

    Road design is complex. One must consider various things: type of terrain, lakes and rivers, visibility, topography, noise, and cost.  A road also has to withstand weight, heat, frost, and rain.  And it must be safe to use.

    Road design is long and complex, and usually done using CAD software.  One has to define the path, make sure curves are standard…

    • Thu, Nov 15 2018
  • When bridges stop bridging

    Image author: Martina Vesuvio, published under CC BY 3.0 license, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ponte_Morandi_crollato2.png

    I have a vague memory of an event, I was probably very young. It must have been a Sunday evening. The construction of a new bridge was near completion in a nearby town. The city council had allowed the population to "walk" on the bridge, the evening before its grand opening to car traffic…

    • Mon, Aug 20 2018
  • Using ARCore for subsurface utility visualization

    Last fall, we tested Google's ARCore, the Augmented Reality library that runs on smartphones.  We applied it to subsurface utility visualization.

    Results were not perfect, but the technology definitely looks promising!

    https://youtu.be/SfBiWLy871U

    • Mon, Mar 12 2018
  • Using the HoloLens for accurate subsurface utility pipes augmented reality

    The 3D rendering of subsurface utility pipes inside a virtual excavation is cool. But if you don’t have 3D data to support it (e.g. if you don’t know the depth of the pipes), that sort of renderings could actually be misleading.

    Users told us that in spite of their limited 3D depth data, 2D pipe maps are very useful for excavation planning, and 2D renderings of those maps in the physical world would be quite…

    • Wed, Mar 7 2018
  • Are pipe maps sufficiently accurate for augmented reality?

    Using cameras for capturing 3D meshes showing subsurface pipes.
    • Mon, Nov 27 2017
  • How the HoloLens could facilitate issue investigation and 3D pipe design in industrial facilities

    Facility maintenance work may be repetitive: sets of instructions need to be executed on a regular basis, to ensure continued operation of the facility.  As explained in my previous post, an Augmented Reality (AR) tutor could help new employees familiarize themselves and complete the task, by teaching them how to proceed, on a step by step basis.  Experienced employees could also benefit from the tutor, using it as a check…

    • Mon, Nov 28 2016
  • Using the HoloLens to facilitate plant maintenance

    We have been using the HoloLens for 8 months now, yet I am still amazed by the quality of the tracking it provides, enabling truly stable and quite robust hologram displays.  So far, many of the use cases that have been demonstrated for the device were showing holograms unrelated with their physical environment: whether they be building models, TV screens or Minecraft games, such holograms might be displayed on your coffee…

    • Thu, Nov 17 2016
  • An augmented reality solution for urban infrastructure that you can rely on

    Over the past 10 years, many potential applications of augmented reality (AR) for urban infrastructure have been proposed: visualization of subsurface utilities, asset identification and query, excavation and construction planning, etc.  Unfortunately, the implementation of AR apps that would be sufficiently accurate and robust for use in infrastructure engineering is hard – because accurately augmenting the physical…

    • Thu, Nov 10 2016
  • Experimenting with the HoloLens for Infrastructure Engineering

    The HoloLens is an amazing device.  It is, by far, the best Augmented Reality device I have ever used. Last spring, we were luck enough to get one to play with.  Here are 3 little experiments that we did with it, and hints about a bigger one to be revealed soon.

    Building construction planning - in a context

    The first one was the simplest – an example of the typical “model on a table” demo. Building design and construction…

    • Mon, Sep 26 2016
  • Augmenting Drone Videos could Facilitate Construction Monitoring

    Augmented reality is a fascinating technology that could change the way we live and interact with the world that surrounds us. Unfortunately, we don’t see many good applications of AR in engineering yet, partly because achieving good visual integration of digital objects with reality is very challenging.

    To display the augmented elements at the right location on a tablet display at every instant, the AR app must…

    • Mon, Feb 22 2016
  • Using Augmented Reality to Facilitate the Interpretation of 2D Construction Drawings

    Construction is a complex process aimed at the development of physical infrastructure. Designers propose a 3D building concept, and ultimately builders create the 3D object that corresponds to the designer’s idea. However, even though designers may have produced a 3D model of their design, drawings, because of their location specific review and certification, are the only form of visual design communication that satisfies…

    • Wed, Dec 9 2015
  • Extending the virtual excavation

    Complex models can be a little difficult to visualize, as element cluttering may impair easy visualization.  Transparency, wireframe rendering, selective display, clipping, etc. can all be used to make that task easier, but we thought of another way: what if we created a virtual hole on the surface of the walls of a complex building model, and selectively clipped some of the elements it intersects with?

    We explored the…

    • Mon, Mar 24 2014
  • Offline spatial panoramic video augmentation

    The term “Augmented Reality” is interpreted in various ways.  But the concept of “live” augmented reality usually means that the physical world is augmented from your current location, at the moment you are viewing the world – that means here and now.  That is what most of us have heard of – you take your smart phone, aim at something, its image is displayed on screen, and the augmentation…

    • Sun, Nov 24 2013
  • Live mobile panoramic high accuracy augmented reality for engineering and construction

    Those of you who have read my previous blog posts on Augmented Reality (AR) (Ref1, Ref2, Ref3) know that one of the main challenges of AR is being able to track the user’s position and orientation in real time.  Overlaying a 3D model approximately at the right location on top of the physical world can be done relatively easily – a GPS and a compass can provide sufficient accuracy for rough alignment, which is…

    • Fri, Nov 15 2013
  • A low cost Virtual Reality setup for hybrid engineering data visualization

    I have been fascinated by virtual reality (VR) for a long time.  I saw it being developed over time, getting more sophisticated every year, enabling users to navigate in increasingly complex worlds using increasingly natural user interfaces. 

    For a several years, I have wanted to get a nice set of VR equipment for our research lab.  We had a few ideas we wanted to test, and VR offered the perfect setup for that.  The difficulty…

    • Wed, Nov 13 2013
  • Exploring Augmented Reality for Construction

    Infrastructure is inherently 3-dimensional. Designers propose a 3D building concept, and ultimately builders create the 3D object that corresponds to the designer’s idea. Yet, the only design document that is legally approved for construction is the 2D drawing. Of course, 2D drawings are essential documents for construction, as they represent an efficient way of looking at and understanding the complex 3D model information…

    • Wed, Jun 12 2013
  • Augmented reality for building construction and maintenance: augmenting with 2D drawings

    Augmented reality finds new applications every week. So far, those that have been proposed for the infrastructure world are generally either related to displaying hidden data (such as underground infrastructure models), or displaying attributes related with visible elements. If implemented on portable devices, such applications could be very useful for infrastructure operation and maintenance. There is, however, another…

    • Tue, Sep 11 2012
  • Augmented reality for subsurface utilities : further improving perception

    Augmented reality (AR) extends the user’s perception of the physical world with virtual data.  However, this extension improves perception only if the virtual data is displayed in a visually clear and meaningful way.  We studied that problem last year – our work was presented in a previous post related with augmented reality for underground infrastructure.  In that post, I discussed the importance of providing…

    • Mon, Jun 18 2012
  • 3D models for augmenting reality: the magic of laser scanning

    We live in a physical world.  Our eyes give us information about what surrounds us, and we base many of our decisions on what we see.  Although our vision enables most of our actions, it has limits.  We are in fact limited by what we can see.  When we are confronted with new, unfamiliar, complex, or even invisible objects, only imagination and past experience can help us.  While vision supplies us with very rich information…

    • Tue, Jun 5 2012
  • Augmented reality for underground infrastructure: the problem of spatial perception

    Augmented reality (AR) is a hot subject.  Every day, we see more applications of that technology.  At the moment, AR finds applications mostly in marketing, tourism, and wayfinding.  However, progressively we see research and industrial groups being interested in other, more complex applications of AR, such as medicine and engineering.  In those demanding areas, accuracy is important.  For instance, decisions taken by engineers…

    • Sat, Dec 10 2011
  • Augmented reality for infrastructure: a first step

    Augmented reality (AR) is for sure a hot subject.  Several AR applications are already available on smartphones: real estate, tourist info, restaurant/shop location and reviews, subway stations location, games, etc.  It is just beginning, as AR technology could be leveraged to many more areas – imagination is the only limit.  Of course, one application area of high interest for us is infrastructure.

    Potential applications…

    • Tue, Jun 28 2011
  • 3D stereo CAD modeling from point clouds

    In a previous post ( CAD Models in 3D (stereo)), I described some of our work on the use of 3D stereo for 3D CAD model visualization.  During that project, we developed a 3D stereo prototype running on MicroStation and tested it using several 3D models.  We concluded that 3D stereo does indeed improve depth perception for 3D CAD model visualization.  Near the end of our experiment, we tried our prototype on a model containing…

    • Sat, Jun 25 2011
  • Multi-monitor 3D model visualization

    Twenty five years ago, brand new PCs were usually delivered with tiny 14-inch monitors. Nowadays, 17 inch is a minimum, and generally new PCs come with 19, 21, 24 inch monitors - or even more - and often in a panoramic format. Using a large monitor, users can see more and be more efficient (naturally this is true up to a certain point, and as long as there is enough room on one's desk...). Many graphics cards can accommodate…

    • Fri, Nov 27 2009
  • CAD models in 3D (stereo)

    The 3D models that we create and visualize are 3-dimensional. Unfortunately, when viewed on a standard monitor, those models are projected on the 2D surface of the screen, therefore one dimension is lost in the process - 3D models become flat. Consequently, we must use our prior knowledge and experience to interpret the 3D shape of the model. That can generally be done easily, but the viewing experience is not as good…

    • Mon, Nov 16 2009