Multi-Blueprint Overlay based on Location (Prototype)

We have created a proof of concept that finds all the relevant blueprints for a user-chosen location from a mobile device.

Problem: One project could have up to 1000 PDF drawings and finding a single detail requires you to memorize the sheet names it is on (i.e. A101, S327, M008, etc.). It's a pain, especially if you're new.

Solution: With one touch of the finger, the user now has access to all the relevant drawings she wants so you only get the five drawings that you need. That's because all 1000 PDF plan and section drawings are in map form, which links them all together by geography, and allows for fast, automated search. This prevents confusion and errors.

Here's what you get:
- Walk on your drawings to get a sense of a space, combined with Shapetrace indoor navigation tech. This currently works for BIM projects only.
- Overlay multiple sheets over each other so that you can see how one system affects another, including the 3D design plans.
- Does not require 3D design plans, meaning ALL digital blueprints in vector form will work.

Ready for field testing! Ready for commercialization!

This week, we finally received our shipment of Lenovo Phab2Pro phablets. This Android device is the first commercial release that supports the Google Tango engine, which enables vision-based indoor navigation and virtual reality (VR). 

This is exciting for us. It means that a consumer device is available such that we can begin selling Shapetrace's mixed reality software for construction fairly soon.

In order to do that, we want to ensure that the device and our software is tested vigorously on real construction sites. 

Testing the Microsoft HoloLens

Sonal and I signed up to try out the Microsoft HoloLens last week at a local Microsoft store. It was a great experience to witness this piece of technology. The HoloLens is essentially a computer built into sunglasses where it overlays virtual objects on top of real-objects. In one example, you can put multiple computer screens in your actual living room, which are viewable only by you.

We were impressed by the stability of the augmented reality tracking. For those who don't know, image-based tracking is the computation of a device's position and pointing direction, and its biggest issue is something called drift. A simple example of drift is if you were to walk around the extents of a room and return to your exact starting spot and pointing direction, the recorded end-point doesn't match the recorded start-point, when it should. The error between them is called "drift". Thus, to correct for drift, your software continuously searches for previously-seen features in your viewpoint such as the corner of a doorway or a bookshelf to "lockdown" any drift error. It's like looking for landmarks to get a sense of direction.

Anyway, we were actively trying to break the HoloLens with funny actions and fast motions to see how stable the tracking software was. We managed to screw up the software ever so slightly, but it took some effort, and the system recovered pretty good. Impressive! The next chance we test, I think my co-founder Julien should go. He can usually "break" tracking systems really quickly since he lives and breathes algorithms.

We do see Shapetrace building for Microsoft HoloLens and similar head-mounted AR devices in the future, and we are setup for it. Testing the HoloLens is a glimpse of the future. While there are issues relating to how it fits on your face (my glasses made it awkward and uncomfortable), the bigger issue is mainstream adoption, and the construction industry is especially sensitive to this. For that reason, Shapetrace is starting with tablets/smartphones, which is a familiar interface.

Ernest