Maxwell Stephens

AR in FM. OMG!

For the modern-day Facilities Manager, keeping abreast of new and emerging technologies is becoming an integral part of the job. Obviously, some technological advancements may be more influential than others, and one that certainly appears to be picking up the pace is the exciting world of Augmented Reality (AR). Here is a great recent example of AR being used by PepsiCo to prank some unsuspecting Londoners at a bus stop…


From the worldwide success of Pokémon Go, to Augmented Reality dressing rooms, the virtual world in encroaching on the real world in a big way. FM professionals need to know about this developing area of technology and how it could potentially impact the world of Facilities Management.


Making the invisible visible


A considerable challenge that many FMs face is the maintenance of hidden and hard-to-access systems and components such as pipes, ducts, structural supports and inside walls etc. In the majority of cases, FMs must rely on two-dimensional construction drawings which are extremely difficult to translate into real locations within actual facilities. Augmented Reality can help bridge this gap and bring the abstract into reality. AR technologies could be leveraged to provide accurate, three-dimensional images of these hard-to-reach mechanisms, combining image data with enhanced computerized modelling and data and enable much more efficient and accurate management of structures. For example, FMs could easily look for the source of leaks through the use of AR technology.


Revamping and reimagining the workplace


Considering a full remodel, fit-out or just rearranging the office? AR can be hugely beneficial for these kinds of tasks. With Augmented Reality technologies you can be transported to the conceptual space, and instead of simply viewing these updates through static images on a screen, you can take part in a 3D experience that allows you to walk the hallways of your new office in real time.


As AR develops, it may even begin to change the way in which people think about the physical office space. Imagine a world where employees could leave virtual notes floating above a colleague’s desk or maybe a funny video hovering in the break room, this is within reach. It may even evolve to the point where a physical space is no longer needed, making remote work much more convenient and accessible, opening up global collaboration in ways we’ve never seen before. You might not even need a screen anymore, because everything will be  rendered within 3D space – you can just gesture with your fingers and choose any app you see floating in the air. When you want to get on a conference call, everyone’s video feed will appear within your field of view, so you don’t need to stare at a TV.


Although it is still in its infancy, AR is exponentially developing and can assist facilities managers in maintaining a building’s life cycle. The future possibilities of AR are limitless. As these technologies continue to advance beyond one’s imagination, computing and display hardware and modeling and rendering software will continue to improve and make these simulation tools faster and easier to use. With its many benefits, both AR systems can bring the art of managing a facility to the next level.


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