Solidhaus Launches an Augmented Reality App for Architecture & Construction

Article Posted on July 17, 2017

Every year, Apple announces amazing new products at their keynotes. Last month, Apple unveiled the new iOS, right on schedule. Their biggest surprise was ARKit.

This new feature gives developers an amazing platform to work with. ARKit gives augmented reality access to almost 200 million devices. Almost over night, Apple changed the face of the augmented reality (AR) industry.

Since the keynote, demos of apps using ARKit have been circulating the internet. Simple apps are being created—like ones give you a virtual ruler, or let you land a spaceship in your pool.

Today, we’re excited to reveal our Augmented Reality app.

Our team has been working on a new augmented reality app, leveraging the power of ARKit. Our product’s mission is to make AR accessible to anyone. What it does is simple. We let you take your 3D assets, and view them integrated in the real world, using augmented reality.

Any 3D model can be imported straight into our app, ready for you to share with your team, colleagues or friends. It doesn’t get easier than that.

Let’s imagine you’re an architect designing a home.

You work at an architecture firm and you’re taking lead on designing a home for a new client. With our app, you would be able to collaborate with your co-workers in a whole new way. Pull out your iPad and load up your current design. That twelve inch screen became a window into a new world.

First, you place down an all white scale model of the home on a desk, and point out all the great features. Your co-workers huddle around the iPad and give you feedback as you explain. One says a specific feature isn’t consistent with the rest of the home (but you know they’re just looking at it wrong).

A physical scale model, next to an augmented reality model.
A physical scale model, next to an augmented reality model.
Designed by Team Las Vegas for the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

You wish they saw it from your perspective—so you do just that. A quick tap on the iPad and you change it from a small, white model to life-size scale. Bringing the crowd over to an open area in the studio, you drop down that part of the home, in the app.

After handing the iPad over to your co-worker, you have them physically walk through the space. They hold the iPad up in the air, and point it toward the specific feature. After seeing it for themselves, they feel how amazing it is, just as you did when you designed it.

It’s 3 months later, and you’re meeting your client.

You’re at the construction site of the new building. The design of the home was finally approved by the client. They’re at the site with you, and you take out the iPad, yet again.

This time, it’s a little different. Instead of white model, what appears on the iPad is a photorealistic version of the home. All the lights, finishes, and materials are there, just as you designed. You walk your client over to the empty site where ground has yet to be broken. A single tap later, you drop down the full-sized house in front of them.

Dropping down a full-sized model, over the existing framing of a home at a construction site.
Dropping down a full-sized model, over the existing framing of a home at a construction site (video).

The client takes the iPad, holds it out, and walks through the front door—months before the home is built. They continue to walk through the home and tell you how excited they are about the interior design. At last, their jaw drops, as they see (for the first time ever) a life-size version of the feature you designed for them. They can’t believe it, and are more thrilled than ever to start building.

Finally, we’ve made it to the final stretch of construction.

Everything is coming together, but there’s one little issue. A contractor doesn’t quite understand one thing about that special feature you designed.

No problem. As you sit at your office, you pull out the iPad and securely share the home’s model with the contractor. They get a quick notification on their iPhone and download the app. Now, they have instant access to an augmented reality model of the home you put together.

The contractor uses their phone to drop down the home in the right spot and walks over to the feature. From there, they start toggling on and off different layers — almost like an x-ray mode. They can now see how the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems work together.

Finally, they have the “ah-ha” moment. Being able to see everything (and walk around it) let them understand what they were missing. Problem solved, and one step closer to finishing building this home.

Our augmented reality app makes it all happen.

This fall, when ARKit apps are avaliable for the public, our app is launching its private beta. We’re excited to see what problems it can solve, and how people will use it. If you want to get on the list and join our beta, feel free to head over to our Augmented Reality page and sign up.

We can’t wait to let you enjoy augmented reality.

Have an awesome week.
—Lashan

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