Augmented reality is a technology that overlays new text and graphics onto a single live view, generally in real time, on a device’s viewfinder (ENR 4/9 p. 17).

BRPH Architects-Engineers Inc. (No. 309) has become one of the first design firms to test augmented reality as a design tool, says Cris Vigil, BRPH senior vice president. While special-izing in complex facilities, BRPH was searching for a way to draw on the expertise of its various offices, he notes. How could the firm best take advantage of building information modeling in a collaborative environment across its five offices?

BRPH uses augmented reality in videoconferences and design charrettes. The augmented-reality program projects a BIM image onto a small whiteboard during the live projection of a videoconference, according to Vigil. As the presenter moves or rotates the whiteboard, the BIM model moves or rotates in parallel. The model can zoom in or out as members of the design team and various offices examine the different design elements.

“This allows us to coordinate the design in three dimensions, instead of two. Collaboration is much faster and more dynamic,” Vigil says.