Hololens at Softability – Construction application for Skanska

Inspecting a residential building project with Microsoft Hololens. Lucas Cosson | 2016/11/07

Lately, we approached the global Scandinavian construction company Skanska and delivered a building architecture application. The idea was to offer a new way to showcase a building project by adding a new level of visualization.

In a previous blog post, I described the use of Hololens for assembly work and maintenance. Softability Studio decided to start with this focus due to our close relationship with our customers from that sector. Though another industry, construction and real estate, quickly showed interest.

As this represents quite a lot of work, we are looking for new talents to join our team. So if you have skills in Unity or C#, if you have an eye for details or some UI/UX know-how for new technologies, feel free to apply at this link.

Hololens for Skanska

While meeting with a large project management company, they expressed their concern about design being a 2D process. It starts on paper with drawings and it is later ported onto a CAD model. Though you are looking at a 3D model, this is still a 2D rendering on screen.

The purpose of introducing Hololens is to offer a pure 3D experience. Lately, we approached the global Scandinavian construction company Skanska and delivered a building architecture application. The idea is to offer a new way to showcase a building project by adding a new level of visualization. The user is able to navigate between the different levels of the building project (building, floor, unit) while also getting information about the project or a selected apartment (price, dimensions etc.). The user can isolate units so that only the available apartments are shown. Version 1.0 was delivered mid-November and has been developed using the Unity engine.

What’s next?

Roadmap contains four versions to be released within the first half of 2017. In version 2.0, multiple users can see the same application at the same state. Similarly to an online multiplayer game, all users are able to affect and see the state of the application in real-time.

Multiple users sharing session.
Multiple users sharing session.

Version 3.0 will add IFC (Industry Foundation Classes) and BIM integration. The model can be affected within the application and the modified data is sent to storage. The CAD modeler can then update the project’s 3D model. This addition will require the integration of different input systems, such as keyboard and mouse within Hololens. Updated model is then turned into an AssetBundle for easy transfer over the network.

Version 4.0 will focus on implementing multi-platform integration. Using Hololens is nice but it should be possible to use any device to create a larger framework. Already with version 3.0, the project is run on Hololens and the modified information is added to the remote project to be used on laptop. The target of that update is to enable a multi-platform session. One user is running Hololens while another is running for example a Microsoft Surface device. The tablet user can draw on the model and share the modifications with the Hololens user. This is meant to simplify actions that can be inaccurate when performed with Hololens.

In addition, extremely large 3D models are fairly commonly used in the construction industry and Hololens may introduce some lag in rendering bigger scenarios. To prevent this limitation, we are investigating cloud processing to render extremely large models with high framerates.

About Softability

We develop new technology applications for medical and industrial device manufacturers (assembly work and/or maintenance) and construction businesses among others. Range of development expands from mobile platforms (Android, iOS, UWP) to backend support (Azure, AWS), providing Augmented Reality, QR technology, Gear VR, Hololens and Vuzix applications.

For inquiries, please contact our Sales Manager mikko.luukkonen(a)softability.fi.

Softability Studio is a subdivision of Softability Group Oy.

Inspecting a unit with Hololens and tablet control
Inspecting a unit with Hololens and tablet control.

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