Collaboration & Annotations in AEC

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Everyone knows collaboration is necessary for teams to reach an agreement in their mutual goals and to complete projects on schedule.  However, there are many possible barriers that can obscure a team’s path towards productivity and alignment. This usually stems from a lack of communication processes put into place, or not having the time to actually reach consensus on a multitude of potential issues.This can lead to confusion on all sides and divides a team further during a project instead of making progress together.

For example, it seems that in multidisciplinary teams where you have architects, electrical engineers, and structural engineers etc., it takes a lot of effort and time to explain why you can't just move a window 10 inches a certain way. It might end up affecting something on the other side of the building. This may require many meetings to discuss possible changes which further drags out the process when in fact the end result might be very minor.


Design & construction view


Sometimes it's as simple as something missing or being wrong in the model. Maybe there's a looming gap between the bottom of a stairway and the floor it is supposed to hit or there's a missing hole in the wall for plumbing/AC to go through. Very often it also could be that the plumbing has been "designed" in a wrong way by a designer and the actual person having to build the plumbing tries then to explain why the plumbing can't take a right turn here but will have to actually go through some other way.

This is where the division between onsite and offsite work becomes apparent since each of these tasks are completed by different sets of people. Generally, an architect does the bulk of their design work using blueprints and computers, whereas construction professionals do all their work on the job site. A designer’s vision may differ greatly than those onsite seeing the build into completion which may result in costly rework.This makes consistent collaboration between the two inherently challenging as it can lead to different understandings of how the project will be completed.

 So how does a designer communicate their vision to the team most efficiently and can we help there? How does a construction engineer share the potential issue spotted on site to someone working off-site and give context to why is it an issue? How do they reach an agreement on the fix and get the model updated as soon as possible?


Business meetings


Well, most teams are used to lots of meetings. Many different kinds of meetings that go over all the changes with constant scheduling back and forth between designers and builders possibly due to time constraints. Having to spend countless hours in a meeting, being physically present just to go through issues is time away from completing a project. Although meetings are necessary, making them more efficient and possibly shorter adds a lot of value to the collaboration process.

The less time people can spend in meetings, the better it is for them to allocate their time towards completing a project!

However, collaboration is now easier than ever with our updated annotations feature available across all Umbra supported platforms and devices! Now all the involved parties in your construction project can have access to view the latest versions of 3D designs and BIMs at any time. This is a neat solution to stay organized and keep the communication open for feedback while managing the project progression both on and off site.


Anotations Screen Shot 2018-01-26


With Umbra annotations, you can:

  • Save camera locations in your browser that will open in the same exact location in AR, and save that location in AR to have another user open it on their browser or iOS-device
  • Add comments to interact quickly
  • Generate screenshots to communicate clearly
  • Categorize issues easily (Open, WIP, Done)
  • Upload a new version of the same model which “persists” from the version it was created in, allowing you to check on its progress while working through the current list of issues until marked “done”

The annotations are updated in "real time" meaning that if you save something then it's available right away for all involved users to access. Plus, because all these can be done on mobile, there is no longer a need to be tethered solely to the computer when hashing out edits while keeping tabs on the project. Teams will be able to track the project’s performance while also simultaneously staying abreast of any revisions that may come into place.

future AEC

While this is not yet a fully blown persistent world in AR, it's a step into that direction. By creating an annotation on any of the Umbra apps, you're saving a persistent location in relation to the model that any other user can access at any given time - be it in AR or on your browser. Eventually, we'll get closer and closer to actually having your model positioned to its correct location in the real world and automatically snap into place in 1:1 scale.

We hope that we can help by providing a readily available 3D model of the project or building to which users can make annotations to and check out existing ones, thus making the process of giving context to potential changes and reaching a mutual agreement over the solution more efficient, thus making it easier for everyone.



The cross-platform feature is readily available now for all our existing users and if you're new to Umbra, just go ahead, sign up for a 14-day trial and try it out with your own 3D models.

Sign Up Now

Read more on our cross-platform mobile viewer and how it interacts with the AR cloud here.

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