Bentley is taking 4D to the next level through its Synchro XR, an augmented reality application that allows users to look at a construction site’s 3D and time data in an immersive environment. This works with Microsoft’s Hololens 2, a head-mounted device that enables one to see surroundings through holograms that appear to be part of the physical space.
Greg Demchak, Bentley’s technical architect, explains the basics of the app. “Synchro XR connects a construction’s digital twin database to a cloud. The SYNCHRO data (which includes Tasks, Resources, 3D meshes, User Fields, Documents, Issues, Users, Companies, and Status) inside this cloud enables the app to generate 4D models. The 4D model enables one to move back and forth through the construction timeline and allows construction teams to visualize their planned approach to the job using the holographic computing power of the HoloLens 2.” You could say now that the application provides a more immersive visualization that creates an engaging space for collaboration and better understanding of a construction’s work and project schedule. Users can even walk around the model with their body and interact with digital objects that appear to co-occupy physical reality! How cool is that?
It Takes a Village to Build a Site
SYNCHRO XR makes it easier for engineers and architects to collaborate and compare reality to the model. The app features a shared experience mode, enabling users to pass holographic 3D objects back and forth between each other. Users in remote locations can also participate in the shared experience. Demchak shares how this mode elevates collaboration with digital models. “The digital data become part of our physical space. They are not presented as screens that we look at, but as 3D objects in space and time.” Put simply, the app provides a more interactive approach to construction work for with it, users “can scale, zoom, and rotate models with easy to learn hand gestures. They can reach out and grab objects with their hands as if the object were right in front of them.”
The objective is to uncover new ways of working and designing with data. Once the data is loaded to HoloLens, users can also align digital assets and information with the physical world and even make updates to the data and synchronize those changes back to the server.
Setting the Bar High in the Construction Industry
Bentley has been in the industry for quite some time now. These years of research and experience enable its team to fully understand what their customers need: more advanced ways to improve safety and productivity on the jobsite. They also know that aside from a smooth execution of construction works, there is a need for a quick and easy way to evaluate situations being planned against the actual constraints of a jobsite. Demchak shares that this is exactly what the HoloLens 2 offers. “It provides the most natural interface for understanding 4D construction information. Not only does the construction sequencing become free from the constraints of a 2D screen, the hologram can also be aligned with physical reality. Our clients see this new way of evaluating their construction approach as a way to identify safety concerns as well as improve planning and project management by embracing the idea of radical transparency.”
Syncho XR opens the door for totally new human-machine interfaces. Now, say halo to its bright future.
Greg Demchak is the technical architect of Bentley Systems. He has a passion for prototyping, innovation, and human-computer interaction in the realm of digital tools for architecture and construction. Demchak has 18 years of experience designing software for the AEC industry and holds degrees in architecture from MIT and the University of Oregon. Most recently, he has been driving the development of cloud and mixed reality solutions.