Efficiency Climbs Where Augmented Reality Meets Building Information Management

At Talent Swarm we envisage that by using pre-existing platforms and standards for technical communication, our customers will reach new and higher levels of efficiency. Our vision relies on video calling to make highly qualified remote experts available on demand, and the data from Building Information Management (BIM) systems will enhance those live video communications using Augmented Reality.

Converging Worlds

There have been significant improvements in video calling and data sharing platforms and protocols since their introduction two decades ago. The technologies have expanded in terms of features and ability to support large groups simultaneously. Using H.264 and custom extensions, a platform or “communal space” permits people to interact seamlessly with remote presence tools.  The technology for these real time, parallel digital and physical worlds is already commonplace in online video gaming. 

But there are many differences between what gamers do at their consoles and enterprise employees do on job sites. As our professional workforce increasingly uses high-performance mobile devices and networks, these differences will decline. Protocols and platforms will connect a global, professionally certified talent pool to collaborate with their peers on-site. 

Enterprises also have the ability to log communications and activities in the physical world in a completely accurate, parallel digital world.

Growth with Lower Risk

We believe that introducing next generation Collaborative Work Environments (CWE) will empower managers in many large industries, such as engineering, construction, aviation and defense. They will begin tapping the significant infrastructure now available to address the needs of technical personnel, as well as scientific research and e-commerce challenges. When companies in these industries put the latest technologies to work for their projects, risks will decline.

Most IT groups in large-scale engineering and construction companies now have an exhaustive register of 3D models that describe every part of a project. These are developed individually and used from initial design through construction. But these have yet to be put to their full use. One reason is that they are costly to produce, and companies are not able to re-use models created by third parties. There are no codes or systems that help the companies’ IT departments determine origins of models or if the proposed model is accurate. The risks of relying on uncertified models, then learning that there is a shortcoming or the model is not available when needed, are too great.

Another barrier to our vision is that risk-averse industries and enterprises are slow in evaluating and adopting new hardware. Meanwhile, hardware evolves rapidly. In recent years, video conferencing has matured in parallel with faster processors and runs on many mobile platforms. Specialized glasses (such as ODG´s R-7s, Atheer Air and, soon, Microsoft’s HoloLens), helmets (DAQRI´s Smart Helmet), real time point-cloud scanners (such as those provided by Leica or Dot Products) or even tablets and cell phones can capture the physical world to generate “virtual environments.”

With enterprise-ready versions of these tools coupled with existing standards adopted for use in specific industries, the digital and physical worlds can be linked, with data flowing bi-directionally in real time. For example, a control room operator can see a local operator as an avatar in the digital world. By viewing the video streaming from a camera mounted on the local operator’s glasses, the remote operator can provide remote guidance in real time. 

Standards are Important Building Blocks

At Talent Swarm, we have undertaken a detailed analysis of the standards in the construction industry and explored how to leverage and extend these standards to build a large-scale, cloud-based repository for building design, construction and operation.

We’ve concluded that Building Information Management (BIM) standards are reaching a level of maturity that makes them well suited for developing a parallel digital world as we suggest. Such a repository of 3D models of standard parts and components will permit an industry, and eventually many disparate industries, to reduce significant barriers to efficiency. Engineers will not need to spend days or weeks developing the models they need to describe a buttress or other standard components.

Partnerships are Essential

The project we have in mind is large and we are looking for qualified partners in the engineering, construction and oil and gas industries, and with government agencies, to begin developing initial repositories of 3D models of the physical world.

By structuring these repositories during the design phase, and maintaining and adding to this information in real time from on-site cameras, we will be able to refine and prove CWE concepts and get closer to delivering on the promise.

Gradually, throughout the assembly and construction phases we will build a database that tracks the real world from cradle to grave. Analyzing these databases of objects and traces of physical world changes with Big Data tools will render improvement and maintenance insights previously impossible to extract from disjointed, incomplete records. We believe that such a collaborative project will pave the way towards self-repairing, sentient systems.

We look forward to hearing from those who are interested in testing the concepts in this post and collaborating towards the development of unprecedented Collaborative Work Environments.  

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