Holographic collaboration, anyone?

Trimble partners with Microsoft to bring Microsoft HoloLens wearable holographic technology to construction – integrating with the GTeam collaboration environment.

Trimble logoTrimble has announced today that it is working with Microsoft to develop new tools integrated with the HoloLens holographic platform on Windows 10 (set to be released later this year). These tools are intended to improve quality, collaboration and efficiency in the design, construction and operation of buildings and structures, and a proof of concept was demonstrated at Microsoft’s Build Developer Conference held this week in San Francisco.  According to the news release:

Trimble HoloLensMicrosoft HoloLens is a head-mounted, holographic computer that provides a mixed-reality experience for a range of commercial and consumer applications. When used by architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) professionals, the HoloLens device extends interaction with 3D models beyond the confines of a 2D computer screen, creating new ways for the many stakeholders of complex, multi-phase construction projects to visualize, collaborate, share ideas and manage change.

At the conference, Microsoft demonstrated integration of HoloLens with Trimble’s SketchUp 3D modelling software and the Trimble Connect collaboration platform launched in October 2014, following its September acquisition of GTeam.

Using HoloLens, architects can experience their SketchUp models as holograms placed in the real world, enabling them to quickly analyse various “what if” design scenarios. Remote teams can also use the technology to review and collaborate to resolve constructability issues in real time.

Bryn Fosburgh, vice president responsible for Trimble’s construction technology divisions, said:

“Trimble has a mission to deliver solutions that transform the user experience and work processes in many industries. We believe that HoloLens is a game-changer for design and construction teams by facilitating improved communication, and enhanced transparency. We’re excited to partner with Microsoft in creating what could be a new era for technology in the AEC market.”

Microsoft corporate VP, devices and studios, Yusuf Mehdi said:

“Microsoft HoloLens is a revolutionary tool for people and businesses enabling professionals in industries like design and construction to do more and achieve more. Trimble’s deep knowledge of design and construction processes makes it a natural partner in bringing holographic computing to this industry.”

These HoloLens-enabled solutions, in combination with Trimble’s SketchUp, Trimble Connect, and V10 Imaging Rover, are currently under development, and details on availability were not disclosed at the Build Conference.

Other virtual reality tools are, of course, also under development. Various businesses have been testing Oculus Rift-based solutions, for example (I saw it demonstrated at Bentley’s Year in Infrastructure conference last November), and – at a simpler level – augmented reality tools can also be integrated with building information models and mobile devices.

Update (1 May 2015): Trimble is not the only AEC firm looking at the HoloLens platform. “Autodesk is taking steps to allow users to use 3D models created within their Autodesk Maya or Fusion 360 software and integrate them into the virtual reality space, by teaming with Microsoft on their Hololens initiative,” reports 3Dprint.com.

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