In previous posts we’ve covered high level concepts of Reality Computing and its constituent components, we’ve explored its value, and we’ve looked at how it’s being used within different industries. Now it’s time to wrap up our introduction to Reality Computing.
Future scenarios for Reality Computing
Reality Computing represents a huge potential across multiple industries and as technology evolves, so will uses within and across industries. For example, consumers can already customize their Nike Flyknit shoes by choosing different color combinations for various parts of the shoes (upper, sole, laces, even the Nike swoosh). But in the near future, one can imagine a completely customized shoe that is contoured to an athlete’s foot. You visit your local Nike store, have your feet laser scanned, and get a custom-sized custom-made pair of shoes printed for you while you wait. Longer term, maybe consumers will have their own household 3D printer to fabricate items such as custom clothing, toys, even replacement parts for household appliances.
Within the construction industry, the production use of augmented reality is just on the horizon—where utility workers and excavators will have ground-penetrating scanner devices hooked into equipment monitors (or even Google Glasses) displaying georeferenced 3D models of the underground utilities superimposed over live images of the construction area.
The use of Reality Computing to support augmented reality will enable municipal and utility workers to visualize underground utilities superimposed over real images of a street.
Image courtesy of VTN.
The use of Reality Computing to produce medical solutions customized to individual patients is already happening—from orthodontic braces to custom hearing aids to replicated body parts used for surgical planning. Currently, medical researchers are investigating ways to 3D print actual soft-tissue organs—a finger or a kidney for example—that will not be rejected by a patient’s body.
For industrial manufacturing, military personnel in combat zones or technicians in remote areas are already scanning equipment and machinery parts to digitally repair and fabricate a new part. In the near future, these groups could carry small portable 3D printers to produce the part on the spot and repair technicians using Google Glasses could view information related to the equipment (such as animated repair instructions) to quickly get the equipment back in service within days or even hours.
Reality Computing may even be destined for space one day. A professor at the University of Southern California has developed a layered fabrication technology for automating the construction of whole structures as well as sub-components. Single or multiple houses can be 3D printed, complete with conduits for utilities. ‘Contour Crafting’ was initially seen as a way to quickly construct emergency concrete housing or to build concrete structures in locations like Hawaii where concrete must be imported. But NASA is considering the technology to robotically print an airport on the moon or habitats on Mars.
“Most AEC firms laser scan existing conditions for use for design development on a renovation project. But we’re doing it during the course of construction—creating as-builts as we go, and using that as a component within our change-management process. This has allowed us to mitigate the impacts of changes, and has helped to keep us on schedule and within budget.”
Virtual Design and Construction Director
McCarthy Building Companies
Reality Computing—from capturing reality data and using software tools for computing reality data, to the physical or visual creation of digital information in the physical world—represents an information platform shift for the design, production, and management of physical things.
While the constituent technologies of Reality Computing have developed independently, they are increasingly being integrated into new workflows by organizations and teams across a range of industries to improve performance and better serve customers and clients.
This concludes our Introduction to Reality Computing blog series. Click here to download these posts, combined into a printable paper for easy viewing, printing, and distribution. And check back often for new posts about Reality Computing trends, technologies, and projects!