As a leading architectural design firm specializing in the use of computer aided design, we are always keeping an eye out for innovations in CAD architectural drafting that could impact the way our industry does business. One recently announced new product, the Microsoft HoloLens, represents not just a step forward in the use of computers in design and engineering, but could possibly completely change the way architects, engineers, and construction crews interact with designs, schematics, and clients.
What Is the HoloLens?
At a recent conference, Microsoft allowed attendees to try out their new HoloLens, an innovative 3D headset that lets users create, alter, and interact with accurate, 3D digital projections. Using the HoloLens AR headset, designers can transform digital designs into fully realized and immersive 3D projections. This allows designers not only to view accurate virtual models of their proposed creations, but to step inside them, inspecting and altering even the smallest details by interacting with the virtual model of their designs.
If the HoloLens takes off, it could represent nothing short of a complete paradigm shift in architectural design, as well as engineering, construction, and many other industries. Traditional architectural design has always required realizing plans for three-dimensional structures as two-dimensional drawings, or as digital models.
For many architects, engineers, and designers, especially those working commercially, traditional plans and drawings can often be problematic. Even the most accurate and detailed drawing or digital model of a design for a three dimensional structure is an imperfect solution, especially for clients or partners who have trouble visualizing blueprints and plans in three dimensions. Blueprints and schematics also only provide a simulacrum of the structure-to-be, not the fully immersive replicas that can be walked through, interacted with, and altered as needed that the HoloLens creates.
The Future of Design?
Microsoft and its HoloLens partner Trimble have big expectations for their prototype product, and its potential. According to Trimble’s VP of Technology Innovation, Doug Brent:
“Today the best way [companies] have to interact with each other is paper drawings. But people aren’t good at visualizing 3D… [HoloLens will] improve quality, transparency and collaboration across the Design-Build-Operate lifecycle of buildings.”1
Along with the announcement of the new technology, Microsoft released a promotional video that, if it accurately portrays all of HoloLens’ capabilities, shows how big a game changer it could be. The HoloLens is shown to be able to:
- Project three-dimensional digital models of building plans onto a real-world scale model, showing how a building will look on the actual space it will be built.
- Real-time editing for those projections, allowing users to use their hands or a computer interface to alter designs and immediately view the results.
- Multi-user capability, allowing multiple HoloLens users to view and interact with a projection at the same time.
- Long-distance communication through the HoloLens program, through which users in different geographical locations can view the same projections jointly and view the changes the other makes as they happen.
- In addition to projecting the exterior of planned buildings, the HoloLens is also shown to create full-scale digital recreations of building interiors, which users can walk through, interact with, and edit via touch in real time.
As of now, the HoloLens is still a prototype that the companies involved are still working to bring to market. But Microsoft’s confidence in the product and the range of promised features are all promising enough to warrant plenty of excitement and speculation on just how the HoloLens will impact the industries of architecture, construction, and engineering when it is finally released to the market.
Want to speak with a Q-CAD representative about our current CAD strategies? Call us today at 800-700-3305.