Virtual reality: the future of BIM?

Virtual Reality (VR) appeals to the imagination. Obviously, you can fantasize away about the opportunities it brings. The technology is about to break through both in entertainment and business.

Mixed reality
We are recently introduced with another variant: Mixed Reality. Microsoft launched the Hololens: goggles that aim to blend real world with virtual images, holograms. These allow you experiencing virtual reality right on your desk in your living room, in the office or outside.

But how can the world of construction and technical installation use this technology? We have recently demonstrated a number of possible applications during the SUM (Stabicad User Meeting, watch the video of the demo in Dutch). Just to see with each other where this technology can go and what applications are viable.

Understanding the model
The first application is displaying a 3D model of a plant room. The room's hologram can be put in any physical place wherever you want. For instance, on the floor or on a table. Completely in 3D and scalable in size. This provides great insight into the pipework in relation to the frame construction of the plant room and other technical components. This demonstration shows only geometry, but you can imagine this model to be more intelligent, in terms of providing, for example, product information, feedback, status and planning information. This could simply be a part of construction works meeting where the designs of various disciplines are discussed.

Smart 3D objects
The second application is placing a technical installation product as a hologram in a real room. The Hololens opens the MEPcontent browser and downloads a 3D model of a Remeha cascade setup from This setup can, for example, be placed in a plant room. Here every centimeter counts, so coordination is of great importance. An advantage is that the Hololens supports 'hosting'. You can place the heating system against a wall or, in the case of a floor installation, on the floor. The product models on MEPcontent are exact, which means that you can see actual dimensions of the layout and that all connections are displayed exactly in the right place. This allows you to see if the setup fits in the room or check if it can be connected correctly in advance.

During the maintenance stage
Finally, this technology can also provide a solution to a technical installation product in action, such as a boiler or a pump physically present in the building. The service engineer can look at the boiler with the Hololens and immediately see real-time data on working hours, scheduled maintenance and any errors. The engineer can carry out maintenance or remove jams with the use of clear visual instructions provided by the manufacturer. In addition, the Hololens also has a camera on board. In case you need a second pair of eyes as a service engineer, pressing a button allows your colleague or manufacturer to have a look and help you get started.

Science fiction or near future? Time will tell. The first promising steps in the technology have been already taken. We are inspired and closely follow further developments. Together with the industry.

Johan Schlingmann,
Manager Product Management at Stabiplan