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Augmented reality on your phone with Trimble SiteVision

Trimble SiteVision is a user-friendly outdoor augmented reality system that brings data to life. You can visualize and explore complex information in the field. Let’s run through this app

Trimble SiteVision Augmented Reality

The application is called SiteVision. At first, it might look like an elaborate phone app, but it encompasses quite a lot. Trimble integrated its Catalyst DA1 Antenna with a power management battery, and there is a laser-run distance measurement tool. They connected it all to a user supplied smart phone. SiteVision comes in three varieties. It’s available for civil engineering, geospatial buildings and utilities industries. The application is cloud-based. You download the application to your phone and then you load files via Trimble Connect, Trimble’s cloud service.

Augmented reality: a phone camera with an overlay

Trimble SiteVision Augmented Reality on your phone.
You can measure between points in the real world, points in your model, or between the model and the real world.

On this particular phone, it is running Google Play Services for AR. It’s enhanced outside the system with the GPS. This way, we had a value for our positioning. The other data format is Trimble Business Center. After loading the model, you can adjust the transparency so that is comparing the real world to the existing reality around you. For example, you might be comparing a building design with what was actually built. This way, you can confirm what was built on the site. There is the ability to walk through the model so you can see details. You can walk through future walls so to speak. And there’s also the ability to go between 2D and 3D views as well.

Data preparation

Trimble Site Vision Augmented Reality.
For Trimble SiteVision, it all starts back in the office. There, a designer, architect or engineer creates a 3D model and uploads it to Trimble Connect.

You download it from the Google Playstore. It supports Shapefiles, CAD files, IFS and SketchUp files. Data preparation is key to any kind of 3D visualization of data. So, for Trimble SiteVision, it all starts back in the office. There, a designer, architect or engineer creates a 3D model and uploads it to Trimble Connect. When the designer creates the model, they may georeference the model. This is required if you want the model to automatically appear in the right location.

Visualize in 3D

It’s possible to position and view georeferenced 3D models from any angle at true-to-life scale—above or below the ground. It’s looking good. While many underground infrastructure GIS and other registration systems do not work with the depth, cables and pipelines are there for reference purposes only. Take a 2D Shape File. There is some extra functionality in the form of an additional file where you can define the depths and make your data look 3D. Caveat: because of the nature of utilities’ registrations, their Z-coordinate data are not considered accurate.

Read more: The Future of the Construction Industry: Virtual reality and Augmented reality.

SiteVision in a nutshell

I got to know SiteVision as a pretty simple data visualisation tool. Basically, there are three ways to place the model within the app. Firstly, Trimble has an automated option, where it uses the coordinate points that are there in the data. Secondly, there’s the measure option. Here you can define your orientation (‘where you are in the model’), as well as your pole height. It’s a two-point calibration. Thirdly, there’s Menu Placement. When used indoors, you might want to deploy this option. You just use the camera and a couple of finger gestures. You’ll get used to it.

Measure

Trimble SiteVision Augmented Reality on your phone.

Within SiteVision, you can measure positions using GNSS, Electronic Distance Measurement and Augmented Reality to better understand your data on site. You can measure between points in the real world, points in your model, or between the model and the real world. The measurements that I just took, you can sync them back to the cloud. Download them or make them available as a simple CSV. It’s like a field note. It records the accuracy of the GPS and all of the conditions. Just like that.

A typical BIM model

Some people (like me) find it hard to understand where they are in a model when you are so immersed with the technology and the screen. For an easy overview, a bird’s eye view of a floorplan is a good option. If your data has layers – you might want to turn them on and off in order to see what you really need. A typical BIM model will have loads of information. There will be all kinds of parts and accessories in there. On that you can tap the model to visualise and understand the various attributes of the model. If your data has coordinate system information and you use Trimble’s Calibration File, it can be automatically placed in the field with the GPS. All you’ll have to do is walk to obtain orientation and it snaps into position. This is a really nice workflow.

Underground

Trimble SiteVision Augmented Reality on your phone.
Trimble SiteVision ‘drapes’ the outside of the hole, so you can see ‘in there’.

Another cool thing about SiteVision is specifically meant for underground utilities. When you visualise objects below the ground in augmented reality, it gives you a certain ‘depth perception’. It is not always realistic, though. When there is a manhole at ground level, it might look like it floats. To solve this issue, Trimble came up with a visualisation tool that isolates the area and helps you understand it better. It’ll ‘drape’ the outside of the hole, so you can see ‘in there’. Using this, you can move over to it, look down and understand the depth. This is a neat trick to make you understand what you are looking at. During inspection, it walks along with you as well.

Read more: Trimble’s new high accuracy handheld augmented reality system takes data visualization outdoors

Visualize and Report

Of course, you can also take photos and make notes or task instructions in the field. Around those, you can create and assign tasks to team members using Trimble Connect. The camera takes the geo-referenced photographs, while it also uses the position and orientation. You might want to take photographs with the augmented reality view, or adjust the transparency to take photographs of the actual scene on site, and send them back to Trimble Connect as a “ToDo”, with assigned dates, task owners and so forth. Sending information to myself, I could do further work on it in office. Or in the construction site shed. Or at home. Anywhere.