Reality capture in construction is the process of creating 3D models using 3D laser scanning of a construction site. The information that comes from this 3D reality capture is then recorded as a data point cloud, and the information can be transferred to BIM or AutoCAD systems.
The point of reality capture tools is to create a digital drawing, in three dimensions, of the real-world construction site. The captured data is able to cost-effectively recreate what exists in the real space, giving you accurate data at every step of the process.
In this sense, reality capture software is truly a component of the future of construction. Note that we didn’t say that it’s the one and only future of construction, but its ability to build models off of the data sets from laser scanners will allow all stakeholders–architects, builders, owners, engineers, and more–to get almost-real-time information about the status of the project.
Using reality capture on a jobsite in progress of being built, stakeholders are able to readily see how things are progressing and if problems are arising. A reality capture system can be broad enough to show you the entire building, but specific enough to show you if a power outlet has been installed in the wrong place. The future of reality capture is truly astounding.
But what are the myths about reality capture? We’ve nailed it down to these.
#1. Reality Capture is Too Expensive
When we talk about 3D modeling and laser scanners, it’s easy to think that reality capture is going to be wildly expensive–that it’s a luxury technology, not an everyday technology.
The truth? First, reality capture isn’t really all that expensive when you compare it to other technologies that you use on the job site.
But second, and more importantly, a 3D scan of your building site can be so incredibly helpful that it more than pays for itself. Think of all the stakeholders we talked about above. Architects, builders, engineers, owners, and so on. These people may be spread across the state, or across multiple states, and they all need to see the building.
The cost of 3D reality capture saves money because it means these people don’t need to travel to see the jobsite, and they also will be able to spot mistakes immediately, just by looking at a screen.
It also saves money because it saves time. No longer do you need to check the space between the stairs and the wall with two workers and a tape measure because you can check it digitally in the built model of the 3D plan.
#2. It Doubles the Work Construction Crews Have to Do
This is a very common misconception, and it springs from a lack of trust in the 3D reality capture system. Often, construction companies think that they need to do both: they need a 3D modeler with a laser scanner, and they need some workers on the site double-checking with a tape measure. But this doesn’t have to be done.
Reality capture is no longer an experimental technology. It is trusted the world over, from small residential projects to massive industrial projects. There is no reason to think that when you scan a building, your scans are going to be faulty or lead to poor data. In fact, there’s an entire organization dedicated to reality capture, the United States Institute of Building Documentation LOA (Level of Accuracy).
To be certified as a reality capture specialist, you need training, both in the classroom and on the job. These workers are prepared and certified to make sure that your building is right the first time and every time.
#3. Reality Capture is Too Detailed/Overly Complicated
That’s not the case at all. Reality capture is just as detailed as you wish for it to be. You can make sure you get a scan that will show you if a kitchen island is half an inch out of place, or you can have reality capture scans that simply show you the extended blueprints compared to what has already been built.
That’s one of the beauties of reality capture: you can get into the weeds as deep as you’d like, or you can just get the general picture. Your engineer looking at the drawings will probably want to be precise. The owner looking at the plans will probably want the big picture. You can do both with reality capture.
Reality capture is what you make of it. It’s not too expensive as it’s becoming more and more commonplace, and it’s not too difficult to learn for your workers to get trained and certified. Reality capture is the way of the future of construction. Will you be a part of it?