LancasterThrivingFallWinter2017 - 19

mobile cart allows them to try it out when the application or
project feel right to them."
Checchia and Beal both agree that one of the greatest
advantages of their VR experiments is that it's opened up
the RLPS team to an ever-expanding suite of software that
brings real value, with or without the VR enabled goggles.
In particular, the team has grown fond of a software product
called Enscape. While there are many rendering programs
on the market, two of the key features the RLPS team likes
is the ability to easily make changes on the fly (showing
customers different styles of doors, for instance) and the
ability to export a file that customers can view, without the
need to have their own copy of Enscape.
Checchia admits that getting users to don the VR goggles
isn't as easy as he hoped and many of his customers have
been wary. Beal admits that in many cases, it's worked better
for him to wear the goggles and let customers tell him
where to walk within the virtual model.
But other customers have been more bullish. Some have
even enquired about what it would cost to implement their
own VR station for customers. And Beal is also quick to say
that for RLPS, it's not necessarily about VR.
"We're very serious about technology. Technology is rapidly
changing our industry and the only way to know which tools
will have the greatest impact is to try as many as you can. If
VR isn't the best answer, fine. But it's our job to be aware of
what's out there. Actually, my current thinking is that for a lot
of our applications, augmented reality might be even better."

I was happy to hear this, because back at Benchmark
Construction, where I work, we'd been thinking the
same thing.
While HOPE International and RLPS have made great strides
with VR, a few months ago my coworkers and I at Benchmark
Construction decided to explore the world of augmented
reality. Similar to RLPS, the commercial construction world
is one where more and more projects come with fully built
out digital models. And once you have a model, either VR or
AR are only one small step away. For our first AR experience,
we decided to marry a decades-old idea with the newest
technology on the market to create the Benchmark
"Pop-Up" book.
The inspiration for our project dated back to years ago,
when our founder Bob Brandt mused about creating a
product brochure that would have our buildings in 3D,
similar to children's' pop-up books. While we never made
the idea happen in the real life, it seemed to be a natural
for AR.
And theoretically, it was. We found a developer that would
create the native app for us in both iOS and Android format.
As important, because we are producing new projects
throughout the year, we wanted an app that could easily
have more models added to it as they became part of the
Benchmark portfolio. This app architecture, which I thought
could be problematic, turned out to be the easiest part of
the project.

Benchmark's Augmented Reality app allows models to
"pop up" through the lens of a smartphone or camera.


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