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In-Depth: Graphisoft BIMx for iPad & iPhone

In this In-Depth feature Akos Pfemeter, Director of Global Marketing and Tibor Szolnoki, ArchiCAD Product Manager, of Graphisoft Hungary, have spoken to Architosh about their new BIMx application for Apple iOS devices iPad and iPhone.

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Graphisoft BIMx on iPad

As we have noted in our 2011 State of Apple in CAD/3D Industries reports, the iPad is a hugely successful device with game-changing applicability to the world of building design and construction. Graphisoft is of course deeply aware of this and BIMx on iOS is the first salvo in response to changing forces in the industry.

“Like our main tool ArchiCAD, we created BIMx for architects…to help them share their visions with their clients and partners,” said Tibor Szolnoki.

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We won’t cover every single aspect of BIMx on iOS’s navigation system but suffice to say it is very nice and thorough. Highlights that impressed us include such things as the use of a “gravity” mode that keeps the user on the ground. This makes it natural to walk up stairs while utilizing the ‘first-person shooter’ (FPS) game-like navigation system.

BIMx for iOS supports two distinct navigation modes. One allows you to travel through wall and floor and slab elements (fly mode) while the other keeps you in a gravity mode, forcing the FPS like experience, which is more realistic. A very nice touch Graphisoft has employed is the ‘egress recognition’ (ER) technology. This helps navigate through doorways in a seamless way with the rest of the navigation system.

04 - Graphisoft BIMx on iOS has a very nice series of instructional programming built in. In this view the user is instructed how to navigate using the "joystick" type user interface with Multi-touch.

As we watched the demo we were impressed with the speed of the application. We think architects who use ArchiCAD are going to love having BIMx on their iPad.

Graphisoft BIMx and the Cloud

In order for BIMx to have the widest possible use and impact Graphisoft has developed it in conjunction with a ‘cloud-based’ computing strategy. From within BIMx one can upload their BIM models directly to a new BIMx community website with full Facebook integration.

The whole system is based on Microsoft Azure cloud technology. The Facebook-based site isn’t hosted at Facebook (it’s not a fan page or group page) but is separate and taps into Facebook API’s (application programming interfaces) bringing Facebook features like “Likes” and sharing into a private cloud-based website.

05 - Graphisoft's new BIMx community page is built using Microsoft Azure cloud technologies plus Facebook integration via APIs.

Users can share their BIM models on the new BIMx community site. You upload to it and download model files from it for exploration with BIMx on either desktop or iOS device.

Final Comments

The current version of BIMx is only able to work with the current version of ArchiCAD 15. You do not need ArchiCAD 15 or any version of it to work with viewing BIM models through BIMx. You only need access to BIMx model data. This means clients, contractors and non-ArchiCAD users like consultants can utilize desktops and iPads for example, with BIMx, to view BIM models.

While this is the first version of BIMx for iOS it is hardly going to be the last. In speaking with Graphisoft they noted they already have several initiatives in mind and will be anxious to get user feedback on feature requests. “We know that mobility in AEC is changing how BIM is developing back in the offices,” said Tibor Szolnoki, of Graphisoft, “one strategic direction is taking this type of tool to construction sites and then changes are made and pushed back to the office.”

There are no such tools in existence yet by any developer that do exactly that in the world of BIM. But Graphisoft has several key technologies that are market-leading with regard to how BIM and the cloud can develop further together. It’s new BIMx and Azure cloud integration is one such area and its market-leading Graphisoft BIM Server with Delta Technology is another. As time marches on we’ll just have to see how the company advances both towards common goals. For now, BIMx on the iPad is a very good next step for Graphisoft and a wonderful new option in the market.

To learn more visit: www.graphisoft.com and the Facebook BIMx site.

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