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A new app is in the works that will allow multiple people to view objects in 2-D drawings in 3-D, complete with 360-degree perspectives. JB Knowledge in Bryan/College Station, Texas, has created the augmented reality app for iPhones, iPads and Androids called SmartReality that recognizes objects in drawings and allows them to be viewed as 3-D objects. Touching the image on the device changes it from an outer view to an inner view; by moving the device around, all sides of the object can be viewed in simulated 3-D.

Smart Reality is in beta and will be commercially available for sale by the end of the year, according to JB Knowledge President and Co-Founder James Benham, who demonstrated the app at the AEC Hackathon. He intends to go against the common practice of charging by the user and instead charge by the project, thereby encouraging more stakeholders to get involved earlier in the process. “Charging by the user is not sustainable; there are so many users in pre-construction,” he says.

People interested in trying out the beta app can download it for free at http://smartreality.co.  More than 90 percent of members of the AEC community in the field have smartphones, says Benham, making SmartReality accessible to nearly everyone.

Currently, Revit drawings have to be imported into a different format to be recognized. One challenge the company finds especially frustrating is that “no one uses code standards in AEC and that drives us crazy,” says Benham.

One unique feature is the perspective from the air that a GPS-programmable aerial drone can achieve to render a building. “We can fly over a dirt site and we can render a building and try it with different building placements and directions,” says Benham.

Benham, who has been writing code since age 11, wants to pull BIM data, cost data and schedule data into the app. He also wants to eliminate the need for tablets. Looking further ahead into the future, he says, “The best view will be from contact lenses with embedded diodes." He sees wearable computing taking the place of tablets, biometrics making passwords obsolete, true asynchronic collaboration where all users will communicate on all apps in real time, and construction materials and eventually entire buildings printed in 3-D.

To view a demo of SmartReality, click here.

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