Vectorworks, Inc. is one of the first CAD/BIM developers to deliver an application in the AEC industry using Apple’s ARKit technology, something Cupertino is keen to promote and get out there with developers. The latest Vectorworks Nomad mobile application incorporates ARKit directly allowing Vectorworks users to view their models directly in AR (augmented reality).
The AR Experience for Vectorworks Users
Nomad was already a 3D modeling viewing app for the Vectorworks user-base, letting users orbit around a model or experience a 3D model in walk-through mode. With the new update, users can view Vectorworks models at their actual size and in context with the real world. This helps architects, for example, make decisions before they are built.
A few of the key benefits for users in architecture, landscape architecture and entertainment industries include:
- Ease of use — simply load a 3D Vectorworks model to Cloud Services and select “View in AR” from the Nomad app
- Effortless manipulation — use standard gestures for zooming in and out, move with an iOS device to experience a model in the current reality
Vectorworks users are already embracing the new AR technology. “As a must-have companion to Vectorworks, Nomad with AR represents a defining moment in working interactively with models,” said Brian Goodridge, principal at Thor Studios. “It’s a powerful tool when designing kitchens and custom cabinetry because AR allows me to project my Vectorworks models into real-world spaces. Clients are now able to view and interact with my new kitchen designs inside their home before the cabinets are ever built.”
The new Nomad AR mode works with Apple’s new iOS 11 operating system and devices that support the ARKit. Users must have one of these iOS devices to be able to run the AR viewer:
- iPhone 6s and 6s Plus
- iPhone 7 and 7 Plus
- iPhone SE
- iPad Pro generations 1 – 2 (9.7, 10.5, 12.9)
- iPad 2017
- iPhone 8 and 8 Plus
- iPhone X
“The Research and Mobile teams have been demonstrating prototypes of this technology in various forms internally and at public events, learning about the technology and gathering feedback,” said Alex Nicol, mobile team manager at Vectorworks. “This is the first iteration of AR for Vectorworks, and we won’t stop here. As users begin adopting the new technology, we’ll continue making enhancements based on their feedback.”
Architosh Analysis and Commentary
Vectorworks, Inc., has released the new ARKit based augmented reality software for Nomad, its mobile app for connecting to the cloud and bringing design data to the field. This iOS-first based strategy largely makes sense given the dominance of Apple’s tablet in the AEC market in the United States and other countries. But there are other reasons that can explain the iOS first strategy.
- Google’s answer to Apple’s ARKit was late and has been considered underwhelming. An article on BGR it was noted that when the Android OS maker rolled out ARCore, its answer to Apple ARKit, it needed to target specific Android devices—and there are so many types—and they must be running Android 7 Nougat or above.
- Google actually led Apple with AR development at one time, using its Tango development platform, something Architosh got to see and touch years ago at an AIA conference. The problem was finding Tango-capable hardware. Another interesting point about Tango was that at the time Tango devices contained PrimSense’s Capri PS1200 SoC (silicon on chip) technology. Apple eventually acquired PrimeSense, a company based out of Israel. PrimeSense engineering is no doubt inside iOS devices today. Back to Google devices, the problem with the platform is that its openness equals “fragmentation,” and this is something that has hurt the platform for professional and business app development in particular.
- There are many possibilities for ARKit in the AEC industry. We hope one of those future ones is like what Tango was promising and already demonstrating a few years ago, which was synchronized 3D BIM models to actual environments so that the AR image could display 3D BIM components behind walls and behind ceilings. Such a feature is incredibly useful for FM (facilities management). At the time, John Bacus of Trimble referred to such a feature as Superman vision.
You can see the Vectorworks Nomad app in ARKit action here: