9 Top Augmented Reality Apps for Architecture & AR for Architectural Design Firms
It was only a decade ago when virtual tours of buildings were only possible in sci-fi movies. However, thanks to continuous technological advancements, like augmented reality apps this has not only turned into reality but has also become a regular practice in many industries.
Augmented reality, or AR, has now found its way to architecture, so it is not even a surprise that more and more architectural design firms are starting to leverage these state-of-the-art technologies.
However, AR’s purpose goes far and beyond what you might realize.
To give you a good idea, here are the 9 top augmented reality or AR apps that transform the industry for the better.
9 Top augmented reality apps for architecture & AR for architectural design firms
Topping the list of AR apps made especially for architects is ARki which is currently available on iOS. Its basic version is available for free and lets you import 3D models of architectural designs directly to the app, where they can then be viewed in augmented reality.
The app supports the FBX files from ArchiCAD, 3ds Max, Blender, Cinema 4D, Maya, MicroStation, Rhino, Revit, SketchUp, and more. All of your imported 3D models can be viewed at different scales.
ARki also lets you store these on your device so you can still access them offline. This makes the app an ideal tool for those who are out working in the field, where you might not always have access to a strong and stable internet connection.
Aside from the free basic version, the paid ARki Pro version gives you access to a variety of helpful AR tools, including:
- Anchoring AR models in certain locations
- Importing several 3D models to a single project
- Real-time simulation of shadows and lighting
- Showing different texture options in every 3D object
- Recording videos and taking screenshots in AR mode
- Viewing 1:1 scale of 3D designs in AR mode.
Out of the augmented reality apps included on this list, ARki is considered the best one by far for presenting designs to clients. It gives you the chance to either share videos and screenshots made on-site or shows your design concepts in person.
The pro version of the AR app also lets you synchronize data between several devices and share projects with a number of users. Through this, ARki also allows you to streamline your team’s flow of work and facilitate better construction among construction crews.
Hutch is one of the most sophisticated augmented reality apps for interior design. This is basically a complete and effective augmented reality app that specializes in interior design services. The user can simply take a photo of the room and try out various looks with the help of the style filters.
They can then submit the final image for the virtual design. This final design, often complete with the white-label products and furniture pieces that are also available in the app, will be given back to the user in just an hour.
3. IKEA Place
IKEA Place is another unique app that uses augmented reality to actually map and measure the space where the pieces of furniture will be placed or added.
The app allows the scaling of 3D furniture to the specific dimensions of a room. This means that if you try squeezing a virtual easy chair to the alcove and this fits well, you can expect that this will also be the case with the actual chair.
According to IKEA, the Place app, which was developed with the use of ARKit SDK of Apple, can render scaled-down furniture pieces with 98 percent accuracy. Simply put, instead of just being a simple app that will make you want to add new IKEA furniture to your house, IKEA Place can address practical problems related to interior design. This makes it one of the better AR apps that you can use today for 3D rendering services for interior home design.
Magicplan is one of the best options for helping you produce floor plans out of all the different AR apps out there for architectural drafting. This app, available on Android and iOS, lets you scan the room with the use of your mobile device’s camera. It automatically produces accurate and crisp floor plans either in 3D or 2D.
Through this, you will be able to generate high-quality interior drawings in an instant that you can share with your contractors, team, and clients. Aside from this, you can also use these floor plans as a reference for the photorealistic visualizations of 3D interior designs.
Measure was made for design professionals. This is the AR app of Google that lets you measure and map interior design spaces that are ready for CAD design in just several taps on your device. Although it uses low-level augmented reality, Measure comes in handy if you need help with your design needs and requirements.
6. Morpholio Trace Pro
Morpholio Trace Pro is another augmented reality app that you can try. This is an all-in-one mobile CAD app available on iOS that comes with a selection of features in addition to AR. To be more specific, it has two tools that are both powered by AR: AR SketchWalk and AR Perspective Finder.
AR Perspective Finder is the tool that can make it easier for you to create architectural drafting directly on mobile. This tool uses the integrated AR capabilities of the camera on your iPad or iPhone to scan a room and come up with precise virtual perspective grids that can be drawn over with Apple Pencil. Through this, you can generate accurate drawings in an instant even while on the go.
The AR SketchWalk feature, on the other hand, lets you project all of your architectural CAD drawings virtually onto an actual environment using a 1:1 scale. This gives you the choice to view the floor plans complete with the elevations or just the floor plans alone.
You can then go on an immersive walkthrough of your future building that is visualized in AR. This is an ideal and easy way of presenting your design concepts to both your project team and clients. All in all, SketchWalk is considered the most exceptional AR feature made for architects because none of the apps included in this list offer something similar, and this sets Morpholio Trace Pro apart from the rest.
7. RoomScan Pro
RoomScan Pro is another augmented reality app available on iOS. Unlike most AR apps, this next option provides users with three different methods of creating floor plans, and one of these is AR scanning. The app lets you capture both the exterior and interior of a building and automatically generate 3D or 2D plans.
Through this app, you can also add not just colors to the drawings but also annotations to make them easier and simpler to read. Aside from this, you can even present your 3D plans to your team members or clients in an augmented reality that makes the app ultra-informative.
8. Street Peek
Street Peek by realtor.com uses the orientation and location of the user combined with the proprietary algorithm. This allows smartphone users to simply point their Android devices at homes and instantly surface the property details about houses in the database of realtor.com.
Some of the information that the house hunter can view includes the estimated value of the property, rental or listing prices, number of bathrooms, and number of bedrooms.
By just tilting the camera, the user can see the map of the immediate location showing local facilities, schools, and other nearby features. If you don’t want to just view the 3D models, no matter how enthralling they are, Street peek is the best AR to give you an advantage during those house-hunting expeditions.
9. Sun Seeker
Rounding up this list is Sun Seeker. This is an augmented reality app available on Android and iOS that lets you view and check the sun’s path at a specific location in AR. You can also see the exact position of the sun throughout the year and at different times of the day.
With the help of this app, you can also analyze and visualize the shade and solar exposure that your building is expected to get after its completion in the future. This will let you optimize the design to make it more sustainable and convenient.
What do augmented reality apps have in store for the future of architecture?
Augmented reality or AR apps are now poised to transform the industry in many ways that no one dared to predict 10 to 15 years ago.
This means that there is no way to tell what technology may bring in the next 15 years or so. However, one thing is for sure. The architecture industry has excellent opportunities to grow and improve. With the rise of AR, experts in the industry believe that this trend will not just help enhance their designs—at the same time, it is also expected to change how the physical or real-world is built.
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