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CRII: Cyberlearning: Mobile Computers to Enhance the Building Industry and Education: 1566274

Principal Investigator: Steven Ayer
CoPrincipal Investigator(s):
Organization: Arizona State University

The building industry has been criticized for lagging in productivity compared to other industries and for wasting billions of dollars annually due to interoperability. Part of this industry’s challenge is that buildings cannot be physically prototyped to test performance, making every new building a first-of-its-kind. To help plan for unique designs, project teams often create either physical or virtual reality (VR) mockups of critical spaces (hospital patient rooms, courtrooms, etc.) to inform project decisions. While physical mockups do enable intuitive exploration, they can be challenging for quickly testing “what-if” design alternatives. And while VR mockups allow for quick consideration of design alternatives, they can only simulate navigation through a physical space, which can skew the comprehension of a design by VR users. This CRII research aims to use augmented reality (AR) to realize, at once, both the physical exploration benefits of purely physical mockups and the rapid-design-concept-experimentation benefits of VR mockups. Similar to the yellow “first-down” line on televised American football games, AR allows users to see virtual content superimposed on top of a real view of a space. Mobile information technologies (IT), including smartphones, tablets, and head-mounted displays (HMD), will be used with existing Building Information Model (BIM) content to enable AR-based design and constructability review sessions. Industry participants will use the resulting technologies to view and modify room layouts based on their project concerns. The perceptions and observable behaviors of the research participants will be recorded and analyzed. This will contribute to a better understanding of how AR may facilitate (or potentially hinder) design comprehension among industry practitioners when generating project decisions. Ultimately, this project will provide a critical resource for future researchers and practitioners who need to strategically plan for the use of technology that affords specific human benefits.

The PI on this work has partnered with design and construction companies in Phoenix, AZ. These companies will share BIM content for upcoming projects, which will be imported into the Unity game engine and linked to printed fiducial markers using Vuforia in order to enable AR registration. This development approach will allow the same AR environment to be exported to each of the Android-based mobile IT devices explored. Once all AR devices are prepared for the review sessions, industry participants will experiment with the placement of printed fiducial markers. Each marker will represent a single building element to allow for design modifications. When participants view the markers with the provided mobile IT, they will see a corresponding AR mockup at full scale. This case-study approach will allow the PI to explore the process of design review in a natural and realistic context while testing the AR visualization as a research intervention. Pre- and post-activity questionnaires will be used to collect perception-based feedback from the participants, while video and audio recordings will provide documentation for subsequent analysis of observed behaviors. The investigator hypothesizes that, even though all devices will technically show the same AR environment, the AR will nevertheless enable (or hinder) design comprehension differently for different participants. Because such differences may impact decision-making, the design comprehension impacts will be specifically measured using existing construction-related frameworks (Conceptual Product/Process Matrix model, or CPPMM; and the DEEPAND framework: Description, Explanation, Evaluation, Prediction, Alternatives, Negotiation, Decisionmaking) for assessing design and constructability review sessions.

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