Augmented reality on the construction site with magicplan
When new technologies and mobile apps, in particular, emerge, it is often the creator’s marketing department’s job to convince the enterprise of the effectiveness of the new products.
When the product is technologically-based, it’s usually the IT department in most concerns that’s targeted by marketers – the IT guys (and they usually are guys, sadly) who, after being convinced of the product’s potential, can be trusted to spread its acceptance across the area of the organization to benefit.
This can often lead to the IT Department, aided by management who have been convinced by the bottom-line savings proffered, pushing for the solution’s roll-out.
And it’s the end-users who belatedly have to adapt their working methods to include the new wonder product. In the worst case scenario, this can lead to poor uptake stats and a general wasting of time and resources.
But occasionally products come along derived from end-users’ need to make themselves more efficient and which, in turn (almost as a serendipitous afterthought) makes the organization more profitable to boot.
The creators’ startup was described by the redoubtable TechCrunch in 2013 as “a company which [has] actually uncovered a practical application for augmented reality”, is based in Montreal, Canada, and Munich, southern Germany.
magicplan is an interior space mapping app currently iterated to version 6.2 (iOS), which provides modeling of spaces using aspects of everyday tech that others are still struggling to put to good use.
The application uses the camera, touchscreen, ARKit (when available – according to the platform, OS version, and hardware) for use in the construction industry, in the domestic DIY space, and, interestingly, in the now glamorized world of crime scene investigation (!).
The app creates virtualized models of interior spaces in seconds to accuracies well within even the most demanding of tolerances.
Once plans have been thus captured not only can the plans be tweaked to include proposed and existing features (windows, doors etc.), but the app then knits multiple plans together to form entire buildings’ floorplans, floor by floor, and even site-by-site.
Once digitized, the app will help select (for instance) wall coverings & remedial treatment materials, and floor coverings plus associated peripheral requirements (carpet grips, underlay, stone tiling pre- and post-installation treatments) and so on.
Suggestions are not merely aesthetic; because the app’s collated data consists of real-world dimensions, it can provide the amounts of the chosen materials required, with or without built-in allowances for shrinkage, warp or – attractive to this author – allowances for basic ineptitude on the part of the worker.
With a built-in database of materials’ dimensions and quantities available from suppliers, the app is capable of determining how much needs to be ordered, whatever the available batch sizes.
Additionally, if required, those materials can be parsed into a picking/shopping list, customized, adjusted and generally altered at will. Finally, if necessary, orders can be placed with suppliers.
This remarkable application has already garnered US$1.3M of first-round investment and made waves at the Global DIY Conference in 2017. It is that rare beast of an application that works well and offers practical, site-based advantages to its commercial users.