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7 ways 3D documentation is changing how businesses communicate

TLDR article highlights

  • 3D documentation enables a whole new way to visualize and understand the spatial context
  • Documenting in 3D (vs. 2D) allows for better accuracy and improved planning.
  • We’re able to communicate more effectively across teams when communicating visually.
  • 3D gives us a faster, more immersive way to train workers – especially frontline production workers.
  • Recent developments in scanning technology make it easier to produce on-the-fly 3D models.

Welcome to a whole new way to record the world, share information and collaborate at record speed

Let’s start with a definition: 3D documentation is when you capture three-dimensional objects as digital models, then annotate them with relevant info like images, videos, documents. With 3D documentation, the spatial location matters (almost) as much as the content itself. 

So far, so good. In practice, this means that when we start a project with 3D documentation, we first scan the environment with an iPhone or an iPad, and document it as a 3D model. We can then upload it to the cloud, and access that same 3D model in VR as a venue to remotely meet and collaborate with others. In a recent, close-to-home example of 3D documentation’s faster-than-ever speed, SynergyXR’s CEO and Co-Founder, Mads Troelsgaard, scanned our new demo space in our office, uploaded it, and was meeting with a colleague in under seven minutes. 

 

 

We use 3D documentation to increase accessibility and versatility over traditional 2D methods to record and catalogue data. Free from physical limitations, 3D documentation is more straightforward to use, allowing collaborators to more easily access, edit, and interact with the data. Overall, 3D documentation streamlines communication by enabling a speedier and more comprehensive overview of information. When we use 3D documentation in production, for instance, these advantages of accessibility, a comprehensive and quick overview, and clearer communication, have taken the value chain beyond our wildest dreams.

3D documentation enables a whole new way for us to visualize and understand the spatial context, thereby increasing accuracy and improving planning

Mads Troelsgaard I SynergyXR CEO and Co-Founder

Why do we need 3D documentation?

When we use the traditional way of documenting, we all too often wind up with gaps and misalignments. It’s difficult for us to get an overview and organize data from various sources with these older methods, leading to unclear communication, sluggish workflow, and potential data loss. In a worst-case scenario, we have a large-scale installation error on our hands.

Let’s say we’re replacing production line machinery, and we’re working with a list of calculations and some photos. We’ve carefully measured that the new machinery will fit in the allotted space. Still, when it arrives, we discover that the handles stick out at an angle that won’t let us bring it in through the door, and we end up having to take down part of the wall to fit the machinery.

We get a more comprehensive view with 3D documentation which can help us catch these glitches in time – we would’ve been able to see that the machinery wouldn’t fit through the door if we’d brought it there and placed it virtually. In this way, 3D documentation enables a whole new way for us to visualize and understand the spatial context, thereby increasing accuracy and improving planning. Mistakes like the production line installation disaster can lead to design flaws, engineering gaffes, and assembly mistakes. 

3D documentation gives our collection of data a context within a shared virtual space. Without this reference point and common ground, our work suffers from greater inaccuracy, less reliable documentation, and difficulties in sharing knowledge and collaborating. With these challenges, we end up losing time and money. To give another example, when we’re able to visit a site virtually with 3D documentation, we save on travel costs and time, since we don’t have to go there physically.   

The immersive experience of XR lets production workers learn in a realistic environment. Being able to walk around and interact in a virtual industrial facility enables an unrivalled hands-on, full-on, on-point experience for production training.

Sune Wolff I PhD, SynergyXR CTO and Co-Founder

With the tremendous advantages it offers, 3D documentation might just become our next virtual superstar. To give you a better idea of how 3D documentation can maximize your business, here’s a list of the top ten advantages: 

  1. Revolutionizes communication 
  2. Streamlines organisation 
  3. Greater accuracy
  4. Visual and interactive
  5. Facilitates sharing and collaboration 
  6. Readily available and faster than ever
  7. Transforms the way we drive value

1. Revolutionizes communication 

With 3D documentation, we suddenly have the opportunity to record and present data from multiple angles in a hyper-visual and interactive way. Its relatable context and quick overview facilitate more precise communication and understanding through a direct, one-on-one experience. When we can meet together virtually, like in a demo space, we can look at the same things together and talk about them avatar-to-avatar as if we were together at the physical location. 3D documentation’s comprehension and versatility let us keep piling on data from multiple disparate sources and supports a patchwork of knowledge that provides all the information necessary for any project.

2. Streamlines organisation

Another of 3D documentation’s powerful tools is organisation, which is especially useful when we’re orchestrating numerous moving parts across multiple teams. In a project’s early stages, we first have to gather adequate information, and we’re not always sure which data is most significant. 3D documentation makes it simple for us to throw in as much information as possible and then have the 3D world help sort it out as it refers to a larger context. Using traditional documentation methods – and having an abundance of data (such as if we’ve taken many handwritten notes, drawings, and photos) – can be daunting for us to sort without a context to place it in.

3D documentation’s mosaic of material will always relate to our shared virtual space instead of just being an isolated folder floating on someone’s hard drive. SynergyXR’s CXO and Co-Founder Thomas Fenger notes, “in this way, it’s a living thing.” 

Linking data with the physical world can be even as simple as when your phone records the physical location of a 2D photo. The photo links to the physical space it’s representing, so it has a directly relatable context. We don’t have as much abstraction as with traditional methods of a written document or drawing.

3D documentation gives our collection of data a context within a shared virtual space

Sune Wolff I PhD, Synergy XR CTO and Co-Founder

3. Greater accuracy

We can record more precise measurements with 3D documentation. A couple of years ago, we could accurately measure within two to three centimeters using our phones’ technology. With improved laser scanners in our phones, we can now measure about five times more precisely, down to about half a centimeter. When we can rely on 3D documentation’s more exact measurements, we get greater accuracy and thus fewer errors (and we can steer clear of mishaps like the installation disaster where the machinery couldn’t fit through the door).

With improved laser scanners in our phones, we can now measure about five times more precisely, down to about half a centimetre

Thomas Fenger I Synergy XR CXO and Co-Founder

4. Visual and interactive

We can have an interactive experience to get a clear spatial context through 3D documentation. This hands-on, visual way of communicating helps us imagine an actual site, or how a completed installation will look. Visualization tools can give us an immediate understanding in real-time, like Kompans’ pioneering app that lets customers see how playgrounds and fitness equipment will look in their parks. At the other end of the spectrum, the worst case scenario would be if we only had a list of measurements. Though we find such a list very convenient for reconstructing, it’s complicated for us to get a quick overview, check that each measurement matches up, and detect any oversights.

5. Facilitates sharing and collaboration

With 3D documentation, we can easily share the environment to communicate with other shareholders in AR, VR, MR or PC. We’re also able to communicate with people who’ve never been to the site. And collaboration is simple since it’s easy for people to add to 3D documentation, just like it’s easy to stick a post-it note on something. And from a virtual note, for example, we could very quickly understand a message like “loose handle” within the context of that shared environment. 

3D documentation’s interactive and visual presentation and clear overview of many types of information create a common language that we can all easily understand. Since we can relate to it so readily, we’re able to grasp material from fields unfamiliar to us. For example, engineers and mechanics may not use the same terminology or approach for a project, but they would both understand a simplified 3D model of a motor. In this way, we can use 3D documentation to collaborate with people from various backgrounds and meet virtually. We find it much simpler to discuss a visual representation in front of us rather than reading a complex technical drawing or list of figures.

6. Readily available and faster than ever

The revolutionary laser scanning technology in the latest iPhone and iPad (called LiDAR) represents the exceptional level of technology that’s available at our fingertips right now, making 3D documentation readily accessible and efficiently possible. The iPhone and iPad offer the two main ways to scan – laser scanning and photogrammetry

The laser scanning technology is precise and enables anyone to very quickly make high-quality 3D scans. Photogrammetry, however, involves taking multiple photos of an environment, object, person, or building with a static camera and using collective measurements to create a 3D model. We use both of these tools for different functions, with laser scanning being generally better for environments and photogrammetry for objects.

With recent developments in technology, our phones are now more and more of a multipurpose device. As these technologies keep becoming increasingly accessible at our fingertips, they create the opportunity for us to use 3D documentation as an everyday tool

Thomas Fenger I Synergy XR CXO and Co-Founder

7. Transforms the way we drive value

3D documentation maximizes the value chain’s ‘Big 3’ – planning, training, and maintenance – creating the most impact as production planning’s power player. Pioneered in construction, 3D documentation plays a crucial role in industries that require installation planning, like architecture and engineering. Some fantastic advantages include:

 

  • Gathering the necessary documentation on the first visit
  • Measuring, scanning, planning, discussing, and repairing remotely 
  • Dynamic updates and additions
  • Building virtual sites ‘on the fly’
  • Recyclable scenarios for training and support.

 

For example, let’s say we’re building a production line. The first step is to physically visit the site and document what it looks like, including the measurements of the space, prerequisites, and hidden pitfalls. We want to collect and digitally record as much information as we can. With the help of 3D documentation, we can organize and contextualize diverse data in a straightforward and relatable way in a shared virtual site. We can construct this virtual site in minutes on a need-basis. Then, we can go to our shared virtual space instead of physically revisiting the site. This means that we only have to visit the site once and can do all the other work remotely – whether we need to collect additional measurements, share data, or discuss our next move. With the effective and speedy planning of 3D documentation, we have faster delivery time.

We can continuously add or change information and keep everyone up to date, moment by moment. When we need to train workers, they can visit the factory remotely and have a hands-on demonstration. We can also create and re-use training scenarios to streamline the learning process and allow new employees to take in the information at their own pace. 

If we’re designing a blueprint, 3D documentation can present it as an easily understandable visual representation in a lifelike image of the planned model. When the project is done, we can add an image of what we’ve built to refer to when we need to make repairs or alterations. In this way, 3D documentation also helps us with maintenance, upgrades, and additions by organising the various moving parts and facilitating remote repairs. We can include all the necessary information, including the history, alterations and additions, usage, shortcomings, and potential improvements.

SynergyXR: “XR for the people”

SynergyXR is a powerful platform that helps companies use 3D documentation to communicate, share, and drive value in a whole new way. Our platform allows people to take the 3D scans they’ve made with their iPhones/iPads and upload them to VR as a collaborative tool. Today’s technology is advancing in leaps and bounds and just keeps on getting faster and better all the time. That’s why we’re dedicated to helping these technologies become a common language and creating innovative solutions for our community.

3D documentation has revolutionised the way we record and communicate information over a short period of time. Just a couple of years ago, this level of communication required a costly 3D scanner. Today you can do it with simple consumer hardware, and it’s faster than ever

Mads Troelsgaardr I Synergy XR CEO and Co-Founder