Having the ability to imagine simple objects on paper and project them to real life is crucial for anyone in engineering. Thanks to technology developed by UK-based XYZ Reality Limited (XYZ Reality), engineers can now use augmented reality to visualize 3D models of complex structures, such as an entire building.
What is augmented reality? The term relates to the enhancement of reality using perceptual information generated by computers. While virtual reality implies a simulated experience in a virtual world, augmented reality takes a real-world environment and adds computer-generated input.
In other words, if you use an app or software connected to a camera that allows you to see how you would look in a particular outfit or pair of glasses, you are making use of augmented reality. XYZ Reality is bringing this technology to construction sites with its augmented reality platform, HoloSite®.
These days, architects' drawings are done on computers, producing fantastic 3D visualizations. However, once those drawings get to the building site, they are reduced to 2D paper copies. "Builders work to architects' drawings," notes Julian Crump, Partner at the UK and European IP law firm Abel + Imray and FICPI President. This inevitably leads to discrepancies between the drawings and the actuality. Those discrepancies are exacerbated over time – if the plans are divergent, either the entire process requires re-work or heavy penalties are issued.
Holosite® comprises a hard hat with highly accurate position-tracking sensors and mixed reality goggles, which allow the wearer to visualize Building Information Models that have been downloaded from the Cloud using engineering-grade augmented reality. This eliminates the need for surveyors to plot the building site and ensures the build is achieved to the closest millimeter.
This results in a high-precision visualization on the real-world building site, giving builders a better idea of how certain elements of the construction will, or should be, executed and to validate their work in real-time, to construction tolerances, eliminating the need for re-work. This speeds up the overall building process considerably.
Aware of the significant potential impact of its invention on the future of construction, XYZ Reality promptly sought intellectual property (IP) protection for its invention by filing a patent application in the UK.
As you can imagine, the patent application for this device was complicated. It involved a range of disciplines from continuous 3D position-tracking to augmented reality and physics. However, patenting was essential to gain venture capital and private equity funding,notes Julian Crump.
The company also understood the importance of a strong branding strategy, filing trademark applications for both “XYZ” and “HoloSite” in the UK. Protection for both trademarks is also being sought in different countries.
XYZ Reality founders Umar Ahmed and David Mitchell have been featured across the TechCrunch, Telegraph, FT and other notable papers while also winning accolades, including Forbes 30 Under 30 for their invention. The company continues to patent its technology in countries outside the UK as part of its worldwide rollout.
The company's strategic approach to IP protection provides it with the tools it needs to become a key player in the global market. The next time you come across a construction site, why not take a closer look to see if any builders are using augmented reality technology.