Interview: SmartReality Integrates BIM And Construction Process Through Augmented Reality

Published August 31, 2013
In 3D Visualization World

The construction and risk management industries are continually searching for new approaches to increase efficiency, achieve better quality and to improve collaborative opportunities. The combining of building information modelling (BIM), construction processes and augmented reality offer the possibility of achieving these gains. Texas based JB Knowledge Technologies Inc. has created the product SmartReality for this purpose. 3D Visualization World interviewed James Benham, President and CEO of the company to learn about SmartReality and other products including SmartBidNet and SmartCompliance for construction and insurance. 

3DVW: Can you explain a bit about the history of SmartReality – how it began, what initiated the beginning of the technology? What is the relationship of SmartReality to JBKnowledge?

JB: I’ve always been interested in computer information technology and have been programming since I was eleven years of age. Later I attended Texas A&M University graduating with a  Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting. I then continued my education, pursuing and completing my Master of Science in Management of Information Systems.

In 2001, during my final year at Texas A&M, I started my company JB Knowledge Technologies, Inc.. JBKnowledge builds custom enterprise solutions for companies in the construction and risk management industries. We currently have 6 large insurance industry firms that we build custom applications for and over 450 construction companies using our SmartBidNet software for construction bid management. We also have a web-based software product for the risk management industry that manages insurance certificates called SmartCompliance.

In 2008-09 there was an App in London that I saw called ‘Nearest Tube’ that was an AR app. It turned on a mobile device camera, then overlaid arrows that showed underground stations and where to walk. I thought this was quite interesting. At the same time, I was aware of the growing international work in building information modelling (BIM) that was attempting to connect with augmented reality (AR).  I was also aware of some of the work in Finland emanating from the VTT Technical Research Centre that involved AR and BIM – but a commercial product was not yet available. All of these findings are what prompted me to begin working on SmartReality.

3DVW: What is SmartReality?

JB: SmartReality is a product of JBKnowledge.  It is a functional mobile application that combines BIM and AR for project plan visualization and collaboration.  In effect, it is a 3D BIM rendinering tool with extended AR capabilities. We have designed it to work through a mobile device’s camera, rendering a BIM file on-screen that sits atop paper site plans or maps in the camera’s view, providing interactive layers that users can see in AR.

Although larger companies do have similar kinds of technologies, most of them are closed, highly proprietary and operate within their own companies and projects. By comparison, SmartReality not only does that, but it is designed for mass use and anyone can access it by creating an account and downloading the app.

To use SmartReality, clients will establish…

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