Bevel was in Helsinki attending the World Summit on Digital Built Environment, as well as speaking at the Helsinki AEC Hackathon. Of course, we couldn’t resist bringing our new toy along.
We brought the Magic Leap to do a mini-hackathon with a Helsinki’s 3D City Model. Our goal was to find out the challenges of large scale augmented reality—aligning the city’s photogrammetry models with the real world at scale.
Read on to find out what we learned about large-scale real-world alignment and how we’re excited to use it for construction and design.
Augmented Reality – Aligning a City With its Digital Twin
Our goal was to pull up a small section of the Helsinki City Model in the Magic Leap in life-size scale. We made a simple program that opened the digital model near our location.
The idea was this: Once in the headset, we would drag the Augmented Reality model to perfectly drape over the real world.
In our minds, it was going to be elegant. It was more like a high school dance–it aspired to be elegant but was still a little awkward. Our city and virtual twin just would not align.
We got close but it was still a few feet off in every direction no matter what we tried.
Manual Augmented Reality Alignment – The Attempt
One of the reasons our manual alignment idea would prove far too ambitious for an afternoon’s work was because we were aligning a large city block with itself, on a site that was gorgeous. And circular. It was super confusing to place exactly (what were we thinking?).
We need Augmented Reality that is robust enough to know where the user is and where all the digital overlays near her are.
Magic Leap – Best in Class But We Already Want V2
Finally, the test showed off the Magic Leap’s scanning abilities. Magic Leap is currently best of its class in Augmented Reality headwear and we were impressed with how rapid scan of the uneven and rocky terrain.
Like all Augmented Reality headsets, viewing digital models through Magic Leap in outdoor lighting conditions was difficult. For construction clients we ideally want our Augmented Reality to work outside in broad daylight. (I realize we’re asking a lot, but once you see the potential of good outdoor Augmented Reality, you can’t unsee it). Clarity of the models was excellent at dusk.
Very cool. ML1 is optimized for indoors, but we would be happy to talk to you about where we are going for future outdoor use.
— Rony Abovitz (@rabovitz) September 21, 2018
Because its cool to be acknowledged by Magic Leap exec’s and know that they’re on the same page as us on the future of outdoor use.
In the meantime, we’ll make shades. They’ll be about as silly looking as the headsets themselves.
Digital Twin Cities On The Way To World-Scale Augmented Reality
Tests like these are one small step toward a long-term future where the augmented world is perfectly and automatically aligned with the real world.
Once information like models and metadata exist in their real-world spatial locations, we are primed for some badass smart city futurism applications.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves–before we can get an accurate digital overlay, we have to virtually re-create the real world–a digital twin. Digital Twins was a major point of emphasis at the WDBE conference. And with good reason. Digital twins are the digital/virtual counterparts to real-world objects, buildings, or even cities.
From scans and satellite imaging to BIM submissions and GIS data–there’s no one way to make a digital twin. Making twins isn’t the problem. We have a gold mine of information about our spaces and how we use them, with everyday people contributing spatial data — from their Lyft route to their last restaurant review.
The problem isn’t the amount of data, it’s figuring out a great way of accessing and understanding the data.
What It All Means
These data sets are far too great for humans to deal with, and it’s the reason why smart XR use will have to involve AI. Humans aren’t great at digesting spreadsheets and/or knowing how to respond to complex data sets. Humans ARE great at their natural world interaction–of seeing things around them in 3 dimensions.
The challenge that excites us is to organize this data so it is accurate, accessible and usable right when you need it. That’s where Augmented Reality overlays and the real world gets so darned fun and interesting.
Interested in learning more about Magic Leap? Check out our HoloLens / Magic Leap comparison post and let us know what you think.