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 to the site is a pain, because it is far away, and you don’t have time. Or because it is too cold, or too warm. Or just because it is not convenient.   Those times you wish you could just view the world (and augment it) from a distance – from the comfort of your office, as if you were browsing through Google Earth.

Unfortunately, to augment the physical world, you have to be in it – you have to have the object that you want to augment in your line of sight. Unless, of course, you first grab a copy of the physical world…

The video below shows our latest proof of concept, in which a technician annotates the physical world using an Augmented Reality headset (the MagicLeap), highlighting maintenance work to be done. Thanks to a previously captured photorealistic Bentley ContextCapture mesh, those annotations can be attached to the mesh at the same time, and viewed at the same exact location, in the same physical world context, on a desktop computer. The user can then review those annotations that were drawn on-site, and plan for the work of the maintenance team.

Once reality is captured in the form of a mesh as shown in the video above, it can be used as a “digital twin” of the physical world. The twin can then be used to display simulations, such as floods, either in Virtual Reality, or directly in the physical world using Augmented Reality.

In those examples, the digital twin can both enable augmented reality and benefit from it. The future of Augmented Reality and 3D reality meshes are intertwined...

Can your assets be digitized?