Augmented Reality (AR) vs. Paper Blueprints

Does anybody think that one day paper blueprints will be completely obsolete. I know that AR tech is still in its infancy, but one day I'm sure there is going to be AR safety glasses (billion dollar idea right there.) 

How long do you think before they're no more?


I'm mostly curious because I work at a reprographics shop and I'm also really into VR/AR. My boss is pretty old and I showed him AR and blew his mind. We're coming up with a business plan in case all goes to crap in the next 10-20 years.

Jan 12, 17 8:04 pm
Non Sequitur

blueprints are already obsolete. Construction docs are printed on normal paper using conventional printers.

now you go tell my drywaller he needs to wear these big goggles in order to find out where to snap his chalk line.

Jan 12, 17 8:46 pm

^I was thinking the same, but then thought why couldn't it be legal? They use AR a lot in court these days. 

Jan 12, 17 10:08 pm

Already permit offices are going toward paper-less. Augmented reality is more or less a matter of visual representation. In a matter of time, augmented reality technology maybe integrated into the industry practices. It is just a matter of time.

Jan 13, 17 4:18 am

Why would the legality of AR/VR be any different from using model delivery for construction documents?

Jan 13, 17 4:21 am

Construction sites are (and probably always will be) a very messy place.  Printed drawings can withstand most of this abuse pretty well. Low-tech is a better solution to some problems in my mind. AR may supplement printed drawing at some point, but not until they prove their resilience on the job site. 

Jan 13, 17 10:06 am

Well, I should start looking for a new career path lol. Maybe 3d reprographics. I can print prosthetics by day and be the Masked Amputator by night. Full proof business plan.

Jan 13, 17 11:43 am
Non Sequitur

^Brilliant idea.

Jan 13, 17 11:53 am

VR =/ construction drawings, maybe one day

this product has been around, but it's really half baked at the moment

Jan 13, 17 12:17 pm

If they ever get some AR into some stylish Warby Parker glasses, I'm in. I haven't played around with it much, but I should.

Jan 13, 17 12:35 pm

I have a VR headset. It's pretty cool. I don't use it much because I'm claustrophobic. 

Jan 13, 17 12:38 pm

Damn Daqri stole my idea I just made up yesterday. I have a VR headset too. It's pretty sweet. I really want to test out the Microsoft Hololens. That thing looks pretty sweet.

Jan 13, 17 12:54 pm

The extent of my vocabulary is pretty sweet.

Jan 13, 17 1:09 pm

These guys approve of your vocabulary. It's just 2 sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet.

Jan 13, 17 1:56 pm
Non Sequitur

Image result for nwo suck it


Jan 13, 17 2:04 pm

The weird thing is I saw Scott Hall doing the DX chop on that poster and thought it was very wrong.

This is what you get growing up watching wrestling. It's still my go to "I don't want to think anymore" guilty viewing pleasure.

Jan 13, 17 2:08 pm

RIP Chyna

Jan 13, 17 2:12 pm

Back to the AR thing.

Sorry... it won't happen.  CAD has been around a couple decades now and it's still rare for a GC to do more with it than take-offs.

The other reality is that drawings are really 'conceptual'.  As in Door 06 is really just a symbol that has conceptual meaning.  It has a schedule, hardware, specification, and requires specific framing and so forth that no one in right mind is going so far as to model everything into the drawings.   Basically that means your AR stuff, to be any more useful than just a videogame walkthrough, would need all the bits and pieces modeled just like it's built.  That's manhours you'd have to build into your fee structure (good luck with that).  

And after you've spent all that time... the door installer won't care anyway because he knows how to install a door and doesn't need all that information; He just needs to know what you want and will take care of the rest (and probably knows more about that stuff than you will ever need to know).  So you are doing it for what reason exactly and who is going to find value in it?  Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Jan 13, 17 2:50 pm

Good point Mightyaa. I get what you're saying. What if they make contacts or glasses able to show virtual images and they process through your phone and cost less than $100. Then wouldn't it be more beneficial just to have a pair of those and you can resize the plans right in front of you. Always having them floating next to you if you need them rather then spend however much money printing blueprints. It doesn't to be full 3D rendering through out the space. It can just be a pdf file that you can turn off and on. I know AR won't be that refined for another decade or so maybe, but it'll get there for sure.

Jan 13, 17 4:07 pm
Non Sequitur


If you spent literally less than 12 seconds on a construction site you'd see why it's totally impractical idea.  My site super on a large office building carries an ipad mini around with all the current CDs, SI,s CCN, and various reports all tied into an interactive package.  Tradesmen asks a question and he looks it up to see what instructions I've made.  

Jan 13, 17 4:34 pm

^I literally have no idea what the hell you just said.

I don't have 12 seconds to be on a construction site. I have a VR headset and the internet has VR porn.

Jan 13, 17 4:54 pm





I wouldn't say never because CAD and visualization is just an extension of it but in time, augmented reality may just be extensions of technology added to the technology just as they do with things like BIM. CAD is computer aided design. So BIM is really a newer form of CAD with the added dimensions of information. So, I see Augmented Reality being extensions of the visualization delivery of what is already part of the BIM/CAD paradigm. 

In time, there will be increasing adoption of newer technology but AEC industry moves at the adoption rate of new technologies as the bureaucrats in city hall. In other words.... darn near to the last in line in the technology revolution. 

AEC industry and local governments quite often tends to not to be into 'blue sky ideas' when it comes to technology. They tend to upgrade technology only when pretty much everyone already has it. There are communities in the U.S. and building departments that are like stone age. Like.... uh.... 25 years behind the technology curve in their operations. Even though their computers are maybe 10 years old, their operations are like 15 years behind their technology. 

When those dinosaurs leave the scene and replaced by younger and more contemporary thinkers/doers then they will leap up to more contemporary operation methodologies. 

Augmented reality is not much of a stretch beyond what is already entering the picture in the BIM scene. I see that major cities will probably be incorporating more and more augmented reality and virtual reality technologies and implementation as society embraces it. When society and the AEC and the cities begin to adopt these technologies, this will become more reality than fiction. In 10-20 years, if AR/VR tech continues to grow and becomes more part of the culture and not just cool ideas but no real world consumer products for the masses, I could see the AEC industry and numerous cities getting on the bandwagon.

The AR/VR scene needs a "Commodore" to break the ice on adoption. Lets take a look back to 1982.  Back in 1982, there was a fledgling home computer / personal computer industry. Just a mere 5 years after the first complete home computer system... not a kit. A complete computer system.... monitor, computer, keyboard, disk drive. While there was already some adoption of advance computer technology by the AEC (including land surveying) at the time. The cities didn't even have computers or if they did, it was very limited access. Your building departments will likely have been completely computer less. Commodore with its massive success with the Commodore 64 sales from 1982 to 1992, it has brought computers to the homes at a price that people with average income can afford. This accelerated the adoption of personal computers well into the 1990s. By 1995, computer sales massively grew. So from 1977 to 1997 (20 years), computer sales a year grew massively from <0.5 Million microcomputers (PCs) to something like 500+ million microcomputers a year being sold in varying form factors.

You can see that this has grown a lot in just 20 years. Once you get someone bringing out augmented reality technology out to the consumer market at consumer level affordability level that an average person can afford, the tech will become more adoptable and the ice will be broken as software develops for these tech. It took Commodore the VIC-20 in 1980 to crack the ice and the C64 as a follow up to plow right through. The Vic-20 was a big success for 1980 along with TI-99/4A but then the C64. The Vic-20 open the doors and with it, software began to brew. Games, apps, utilities, etc. Then with very little work, it was then ported across to Commodore 64. Then the market exploded. The Vic-20 paved way for the C64's success in my opinion. The Vic-20 didn't have the colorful games and apps immediately available. SW developers started to brew with the VIC-20 and then when the C64 came out, they ported many of the VIC-20 games to the C64 with minor refinements and tweaks while new games for C64 began to be introduced the following year. This helped the C64 sales boom in 1983 and 1984. There will probably need a double wham approach like this in the Augmented Reality realm for these hardware developers and software developers to get onto the bandwagon. The software is what will sell the hardware. It will start slow but will then BOOM! once the third party software scene enters the scene.

Then as that cycle plays out over the next 10 or more years, the adoption of this technology in the AEC industry, local governments, etc. then I see it being possible.

AR/VR is in my eyes like the pioneering era of personal computer. For me, it is an exciting and interesting time.

Those with entrepreneur spirit, this is the time to get into the game. They're will be a shake out period at some point but you get your feet in and you'll be able to be part of it even if your own business is absorbed by others during the shakeout. You'll be a pioneer and hold a special status because of it well into the future. If you play it well, you'll be well off. It's a gamble so play it carefully, play it well, and play it smart.

Those in the AEC industry, keep your eyes open. Your time will open as the tools becomes available so don't be the last guy in the game among the AEC industry. The next 10 years in AR/VR will be interesting. It will be the time to become part of shaping the software development for architectural, engineering, and construction.

I see it as an extension of BIM/CAD. You don't have to reinvent the wheel completely. 

Sam, you seem to be a young fellow, be open minded with the future technologies. It's hard to predict exactly how AR/VR will unfold. Don't try to. Ride the wave as it flows.

Jan 14, 17 6:09 am
Non Sequitur
You also know why it's ridiculous Ricky Bobby if you ever spent any time in either an arch office or a construction site.
Jan 14, 17 7:38 am

I seen the offices of architects and construction. Even when you have a computer that's new, some of you guys still use it like it was 1995 because your brains are still in 1995 in your processes. Some of you are also more contemporary thinkers and doers. Yes, construction companies are usually lagging a bit when it comes to using the computer for business use on a level beyond what they been doing all the way back to 286/386 era computing when it was DOS or Windows 3.x.

Some of them embrace new technology but on average, architects tend to not really be on the cutting edge of technology unless you're in a starchitect office where they have a million dollars of discretionary spending. 

This is because architects often try not to outpace the cities they do projects in. You're delivery model is dependent on the bureaucracy.

Construction businesses are often less dependent on computers. They are dependent on the tools they use. 

Jan 14, 17 7:53 am
Non Sequitur
Jan 14, 17 9:45 am
If an alien landed in Astoria, Balkins would be the one to lecture the alien on what the alien's home planet is like ... as well as the alien's language, civilization, technologies, biology, physiology, psychology, etc.
Jan 14, 17 11:06 am

A lot of construction contractors don't have the IT skills to begin with. There is still a lot of architects with little to no tech skills. If you think that oversize inkjet printer that you call a plotter is really that new and cutting edge in computing, you're dead wrong. It might have some innovations for printing quality and DPI but it is still basically 25 year old paradigm.

Aside from that, the workflow is still largely the same as it was. Construction contractors might use CNC but CNC has been around for quite a while. The computers might be newer in order to improve the CNC operational efficiency but it's the same basic model of operation. Construction shops are workshops using machinery (not that much computer brains involved). The brains involved are human. 

The computers contractors may often use the most is.... the smart phone. (iphone, android smartphone... ok).

As I said, AR/VR technology will eventually become more adopted in the AEC industry, probably after it has already become widely used by consumers. Sure, some of you may experiment with it but experimenting with it is not adopting the technology for the business and business work flow. That's just personal testing of it. I'm talking about the architecture community abroad not this damn forum which mostly attract younger architects and architecture 'interns' or whatever, and architecture students.

But I said the AEC industry which means the businesses and workforce in the architectural designing, engineering and construction of buildings. There are some parties in this that are embracing more cutting edge technologies but again this industry as a whole isn't going to be first adopters by demographics. The software/video game developers will be the first primary adopters of the technology along with the first wave of consumers adopting the technology as they come out. Software developers are the ones who will be having to make the computer tools you use support the AR/VR technology and implement it. 

Some of us can get right in there.

This is the time for the entrepreneurs out there to get in the game. Wait too long and the economy sector of AR/VR will close out to new start ups forming. There is only so much time. Then it becomes an oligopoly of the major players after absorbing the smaller fishes that don't make it big---just like anywhere else in corporate America and capitalism anywhere else. Then it becomes exponentially harder to break into the market. 

Jan 14, 17 2:08 pm

What do I mean by 'now'? I mean within the realm of today to maybe a year to about 5 years at most. You have to be ahead of the 8 ball not behind it. If you are developing hardware that will be using AR/VR, the time is sooner than later because the market would have been taken. This 'now' is relative.

The video game development for AR/VR market to get into it is pretty much right now. If you want to carve out your corner of the market, you need to be there right from get go and within the first year or so. If you wait 10  years or 20 years, you won't have any room in the market to really compete because market share would be dominated by big corporations and there would be shakeouts in the ensuing 10 to 20 years. You just have to get a strong hold and a following of consumers recognizing you and your brand in the market of AR/VR games.

Some other niches will have slight offsets but even that closes up and becomes increasingly difficult over time to make the break.

It would be a missed opportunity. Miss the opportunity and bam! you can end up just having to work for someone else.

The window of opportunity isn't going to be there forever. Okay.

As for adoption of the technology, it comes with push/pull but just like it was in the dawn of computer age, there was the attitude of "why do I need a computer?"

The first adopters were the open minded. They got in and many of them reaped millions of dollars and their companies (many of them absorbed during periods of consolidation) and now the biggest software companies in the game.

Why am I getting into this AR/VR technology? There is exciting new opportunities for video game entertainment and software opportunities in it. New forms of expression. In addition, its a growing market that isn't yet dominated. In turn, there is a business opportunity to carve out a share of the market in video games and software development & publishing. 

This will become its own market in and of itself. 

Jan 14, 17 2:48 pm

If an alien landed in Astoria, Balkins would be the one to lecture the alien on what the alien's home planet is like ... as well as the alien's language, civilization, technologies, biology, physiology, psychology, etc.

If I had an opportunity to learn about the alien's culture, technology and civilization and all, then maybe I would be able to seize on the opportunities that are available from that. Lecturing on the topic might be just one of the avenues of generating awareness but understanding their advance technologies would obviously be a great opportunity from a business point of view as well. So would any knowledge that can be gleaned

Think about it.

Jan 14, 17 2:53 pm

The fact that clients can barely tell what is going on when looking at conventional drawings/CDs and often need renderings to understand the design of the space - AR and VR (presentation techniques) would be an elegant solution to visualization inabilities on the clients side.

Jan 25, 17 3:37 pm


Jan 25, 17 5:36 pm

Man, I missed Rick's wall of text...

Just a couple corrections... I've been around the block a long time.  The government actually isn't slow to adopt in their requirements; just slow in getting it themselves.  The first CAD station my Dad's firm got in the '80's was specifically required by their Federal work with GSA, DOD and Postal Service.  All the other projects were still on drafting boards.

The first adopters of Revit and BIM was also government.  My personal theory is Autodesk, with the absurd fees they collect from us doesn't spend it on development; they spend a ton on marketing.  You can look it up, but they spend just over half of what the AIA does on professional political lobbying efforts....  So... Government REQUIRES certain formats because they get sold on the idea.

I go round and round with this with my sister who is a university campus architect and their regulations.  They require all this BIM and standards.  I ask her if she's ever or knows anyone on staff who has ever opened the file to find a certain part or spec rather than just look at the problem and fix it (like replacing a flush valve or drinking fountain)... She hasn't.  They are sold on the theory, but it doesn't go beyond that.

So... if they want to get AR in the mainstream, they need to market those that set the standards/regulations we have to conform to.  Government agencies are really the only ones who's reach is large enough, and build enough to force adoption throughout an industry.  

Jan 25, 17 8:52 pm


I was talking local governments. The kind of government that most architects in the U.S. have to work with when makes building plans for permits.

That's all. 

Aside from that, I largely agree with your essential points in the above.

Jan 26, 17 5:13 am

Augmented reality technology can show that it is impossible to display on existing surfaces, for example, instructions for repairing mechanisms. Therefore, the use of augmented reality for business ( ) is very effective in perceiving.

Dec 7, 18 7:59 am

However, entering a competitive market is not easy, and it may still be difficult for these companies to establish themselves and become profitable. Even larger virtual reality startups like Oculus are struggling to get their systems right. Although Forbes analysts say that return on investment in virtual reality may not be immediate, no one suggests that it is not worth the effort, as groups such as TrendForce predicted that by 2020 the virtual reality market will be $ 70 billion.

Nov 25, 19 3:10 am

If AR puts Autodesk and Adobe out of business, I'm OK with that.

Nov 25, 19 11:58 am

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