Augmented reality in architecture is a modern and effective way to make the construction and design process much more comfortable and easier. Thus, augmented reality architecture can use interactive means for the real world surrounding, which can then be manipulated.

What is an augmented reality in architecture and other spheres?

Augmented reality for architecture and design is a live-copied view of a physical real-world environment. The latest is augmented by the computer-generated elements. For such a purpose, augmented reality architecture apps are used. In comparison with the virtual reality, which replaces the real world, augmented reality for architects is able to be interactive, which means you can use it to modify the real world.

Augmented reality in architecture is featured by the computer vision and good object recognition. The computer is accountable for the derivation of the coordinates of the real world and the generation of perceptual information to augment the reality. The technology also requires the application of cameras, sensors, and mirrors (to create reflection). Augmented reality in architecture and other fields can use various modalities, such as:

  • visual
  • haptic
  • auditory
  • somatosensory
  • olfactory

The perceptual information supplemented to the real surrounding environment can be either constructive or destructive. Thus, it changes the perception of reality. That’s why augmented architecture is often called mixed reality or computer-mediated reality.

Augmented reality software for architecture and other spheres is very valuable because it allows bringing the components of a digital world into the perception of the real world by a person. Thus, it is possible to reach visualization and better efficiency. The elements described are perceived as a natural environment.

Augmented Reality for architecture vs Virtual Reality

Both technologies are created in order to change the way you look at the surrounding world. It’s the main reason, why many people confuse these terms.

As augmented reality is an enhanced variation of our reality, it is generated by means of various apps for architecture. Thus, you can see it on smartphones, tablets or other devices. As a result of augmented reality architecture app use, you will see the world in front of you with a layer of additional information supplemented to it. Such information might contain texts, images, videos or other elements. Such applications can be used either for fun or for work. It has been widely used for years in the gaming industry and various media entertainment.

There are several types of augmented reality for architects:

  • markerless (demands a visual object and a camera for scanning)
  • marker-based (position-/location-based AR working with GPS or other related technologies)
  • projection-based (deals with the projection of synthetic light to the real surface, sometimes the interaction is possible)
  • superimposition-based (deals with the replacement of the original view with the augmented one, based on the object recognition).
AR home

As for the virtual reality, it creates a kind of simulated environment. It is not like in the case with the augmented reality architectural app. You see the other environment, which differs from the one in front of you. It might be either an artificial reality or an actual place, the image of which is added in a VR app. Here, you can move around, look and go in any direction, while AR architectural apps do not provide such an opportunity. Besides, to use VR software, you need to have special tools, so-called VR viewers (for instance, Oculus Rift). As for the augmented reality for architecture, you need just your gadget and a special application installed.

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How virtual and augmented reality can shape architecture and design?

Augmented reality architecture app allows placing a definite 3D model into a real environment. The application of augmented reality in architecture started with its usage by Seattle’s BNBuilders. The latest wanted to demonstrate the proposed designs in the context of existing conditions to their customers. For that purpose, they used Apple iPads and other portable devices.

Today augmented reality and architecture are strongly connected. By means of architecture augmented reality app, the specialists manage to reach the visualization of designs and space planning. The technology and various architectural apps are widely used by the engineering, construction, and architecture firms. Another purpose of such apps for architects is the possibility of design analysis. Walking through the completed model, you can pick up various clashes. Thus, all the necessary changes can be made during the design stage, which is much cheaper now than in the later stages.

As for the virtual environment of apps for architects, they allow placing the clients into a generated environment instead of explaining how it is going to look like. Such an approach is much more effective and visual.

Augmented reality in architecture: top augmented reality apps

There exist lots of apps for architects. Today we are going to observe the most popular augmented reality software used by the specialists of the sphere:

  • ARki: a real-time service with 3D models and different levels of interaction.
  • Storyboard VR: a free tool for the manipulations of 2D assets.
  • Pair: with iPhones and iPads, allows to drag-and-drop 3D models of clients’ furnishings and appliances into their designs.
  • SmartReality: creates a 3D visualization of a project by means of overlaying of interactive BIM model over printed construction plans.
  • Fuzor: allows moving around, visualizing, annotating, and inspecting BIM information, can be integrated with Revit.
  • Augment: a mobile augmented app for architecture, which provides 3D modeling for exterior and 3d model interior design.
  • MagicPlan: the architecture augmented reality app allows making fast and easy drafting of floor plans.
  • SmartReality: allows overlaying the BIM model and providing good visualization.

The most popular files formats are USZD (developed by Apple together with Pixar, it’s able to compose many source files and can be used on any platform) and glTF (it is created for 3D scenes and models, it is able to make their size smaller and define different formats of 3D tools enabling interoperable application of content).

Architecture augmented reality apps are able to make your work even more amazing. Using the top augmented reality apps you can make your job more comfortable and faster providing the clients with the efficient solutions they surely will appreciate and estimate much better than just some architectural blueprints or layouts, which can’t be properly read by non-specialists.


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