3D in Construction for Dummies
To feel them is to know them - we want to have a have real connection with our surroundings. We wouldn’t want to live in a world where everything is just clean and pure and detailed, a world where we are not allowed to touch anything, move anything, have an impact on anything.
This is the key problem with the use of ready-made mock-ups that many construction companies use these days. It does not matter how accurate these renderings are, because at the end of the day, they are nothing more than pretty pictures. They can only offer a vague “feeling” of an apartment without offering a real connection; a meaningful way to interact, move the sofa over there or change the tiles over there.
It's like you are seeing a glossy picture of somebody else’s home, or even worse, just an idea of a home. Without real connection, it’s like we are ghosts in a movie, trying to get in touch with our loved ones; it is an empty feeling in an empty world. The real inspiration is lacking. With zero interaction there is zero opportunity to be creative.
What you really want, as in life in general, is to make something happen.
The homebuyer’s relationship with their homes is changing rapidly, as is their relationship with reality. There was a time when all was analogue. There will never be a time when all is just digital. We have arrived at the point where the analogue world has merged with the digital world - and neither of them can survive without the other. The lines between the physical and digital spheres are getting blurred, and the same applies to the industry of concrete and steel as well.
While our relationship with reality is changing rapidly, so is the consumer behavior. We have moved into the post-mass production era into to the era of mass customization . We no longer go to a bar and just order beer, but Indian Pale Ale from a Dutch microbrewery. The construction industry is not immune to this trend. Today’s homebuyers want to customize kitchens, bathrooms, and the overall feel of their future home, and they want to be able to express their values in doing so.
As an industry, we must be ready for these changes. We should look beyond pretty pictures and a glossy, sterile atmosphere. 3D in construction should not be looked at as a fancy new feature to attract more customers, but an effective tool for all stakeholders to achieve a common goal.
Virtual space does not exit. It is created - Slogan for Match XR 2022, an annual Slush pre-event focusing on extended reality
Building Information Modeling (BIM) has been used in architecture, engineering, and construction for decades. It is a link between people, technology, and processes. It is a model which does not contain just geometrical representation of the building project, but also relevant meta-data about entities within the model.
In BIM modeling, architecture, engineering, and construction, people all work using the same 3D environment, which gives the insight and tools to plan, design, construct, and manage buildings and infrastructure more efficiently. This common language of BIM has already revolutionized the construction industry and made processes much less error prone.
This same 3D environment can be used within the customer journey as well. It offers a glimpse well into the future when the building itself is just reaching its crest height. It’s also easy to tell a story with a 3D floor plan. Being able to view a 3D design of a property from every angle in detail with better insight to spatial proportions gives the home buyer an assurance: what you see is what you get. There are no misunderstandings or false promises. The changes that the customer wants to make are simpler to accommodate, and alterations are much faster to make.
With 3D, the homebuyers gain deeper insight and understanding of their future home, and can enjoy the immersive experience, especially when the user interface is a pleasure to use. Being much more than just a mere mirage - a pretty picture to help the sales team, it enables a deeper level of emotional connection. It is the proactive and involving nature of it that makes it true.
The digital twin, a realistic 3D digital model of a physical thing, acts like is a duplicate of its real-life counterpart, replacing ”as build” with “as is”. It can be used in sales and marketing, customer service, materials management, site processes (e.g. work instructions, procurement, scheduling, paced production, quality management) as well as in digital handover and in the management of statutory documentation related to the warranty period.
A digital twin is much more than just 3D, as it inhabits the fourth dimension as well, that being time. It enriches the BIM with external data sources throughout the building’s lifespan. As residents, owners, and property offices change, the digital twin remains available to all stakeholders.
Information relevant to the building, such as contracts, construction documents, and maintenance information can be transferred effortlessly to the digital twin, and can be accessed by maintenance personnel and the inhabitants themselves, which makes it the most trustworthy real-time communication channel between stakeholders. Inspections and annual repairs can be handled reliably and conveniently, as all the information is maintained in the same place.
This takes the 3D customer experience to the whole new level. Having access to more up-to-date information allows, for example, a more accurate assessment of future renovation needs. The gathering data will no longer be fragmented or lost but becomes enriched and useful for the twin’s counterpart in the real world throughout its life cycle. You can clone the whole apartment. You can share the design and your beloved decoration with others, or you can sell the design for someone who wants to copy your awesome taste.
In other words, a digital twin functions as a backup hard drive. It stores everything, including the whole history of renovations, the whole DNA of an apartment, and so much so, that if the building would burn down, it is possible to build it back exactly as it was. Or as it was a year ago. Or as it was when it was first built. This makes it the homeowner’s insurance, an assurance of continuity.
Or you can think of what iCloud is for your precious family photos.
Virtual reality (VR) and Augmented reality (AR) are both gaining momentum, and both solutions have enormous potential for the construction industry. According to the Fortune Business Insights report, the global market is projected to grow from USD 16,67 billion in 2022 to USD 227,34 billion by 2029.
VR (and AR) is the next level in 3D modeling. It is a place where something that doesn’t yet exist comes to life with photorealistic visual fidelity and with depth awareness. It places homebuyers directly inside the virtual environment and lets them to experience a full immersion into the virtual space; what it will look and feel like, including views, lighting, layout, and furnishings. All that is missing is the smell of cooking, a child's drawing on the refrigerator door, dog hair on the sofa cushion, though at least two of those can be arranged there too.
Customers can try and purchase different materials, various interior styles, and furniture with improved accuracy - or maybe even some contemporary art from the prolific art dealer. The need for customization is not only limited to taste preferences, but also home materials and possible CO2 emissions and chemicals are of interest to end users who are much more environmentally conscious these days, and want the opportunity to make sustainably informed purchases.
VR, and 3D as a whole, make the home buying experience more effective and pleasant, more emotional and engaging. When issues and questions do arise, you can address them right away within a shared environment and with a photo-realistic, visually accurate model of the apartment. It is the seamless interaction like this that draws the customer in. The rooms, the furniture is all there, as are you and your plans and your dreams of what the perfect home for you would look like. And this, among other things, opens the venue for upselling.
Community & Marketplace
It's the economy, stupid - slogan for Bill Clintons’ 1992 presidential campaign
An impressive amount of documentation is generated during a building’s lifecycle. It is not only produced before delivery, but also later as a product of various annual maintenance activities and warranty repairs. This so-called “big data” can create significant and indisputable capital for its holder. But if it is not refined, developed, or enriched, it all goes to waste.
Only 10% of the costs of an apartment building are incurred during the construction phase. This means that 90% of the apartment's life cycle costs (i.e. cash flow) are not utilized. The big question then is: how can we make use of digital twins and expand the service offering horizontally in the life cycle of apartments? And how does the enrichment of these models happen after handover?
The information provided by the digital twin helps to optimize the next construction project already in the planning and pre-marketing phase. This data can also be used in the automation of individual marketing as well as process optimization and demand forecasting. For example, predicting tile choices can help optimize supply and demand, which also reduces the need for storage, and for targeted marketing and service provision (for example, electricity contracts, subscriptions, insurance, cleaning services, moving services, etc.)
Maintenance work, communality, and marketplace all together create a metaverse , which is strongly connected to reality, the apartment itself, and of course its users. Performed renovations, electricity contracts, maintenance contracts, management contracts, building maintenance books, furniture, renovation, energy consumption, water consumption, space utilization… the amount of data entered during the entire life cycle of the apartment will grow exponentially.
As the amount of data grows, so grows the homeowner’s relationship to the virtual realm where this data is stored. This high-quality information contained in the digital twin has so much added value that it makes users stay on the platform, and this, of course, will also attract third parties.
With the community and marketplace built on top of this, it is possible to offer community and commercial services for the entire life cycle of the apartment. A marketplace created on such a metaverse platform that includes such things as blockchain, NFT, and protocols related to payment methods and authentication, and where different actors can meet in real-time and operate securely, is the future that we are looking for.
Move fast and break things was an internal motto used by Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, formerly known as Facebook. As an industry, we are the opposite of this kind of thinking. But we need to move forward as well. We are in a middle of transformation, and despite the current turmoil, we are on a verge of something exciting and new. To keep up with the world, we will need not merely to invent new ideas and products, but above all to reinvent ourselves.
There is a new generation of homebuyers entering the market. For them, the world has always been a hybrid model: half analogue, half digital. They have not experienced life in any other way, and the world they build will be completely different from the one of their parents.