Architects have long used 3D printing as a means to better visualize their design ideas. By 3D printing a building you can "see" it much better than through a 2D screen and thus gain insight you'd otherwise miss.
But the problem is that the 3D model is, well, static. It just sits there. It may even be mono-colored. Dull. How can you visualize any dynamic activity around the design? How will the sun fall on the structure during various times of the year, for example?
Now a new approach has been developed by Inition, according to a detailed report on Dezeen. The 3D company developed a custom iPad application that uses the camera to image an existing printed 3D model and overlay that with various information in an augmented reality way.
It's a little hard to explain in words, so we strongly recommend you watch their video, showing, for example, moving traffic around a building, growing trees, projected wind flows, highlighted building sections and more. There's much more detail in the Dezeen article, too.
There's an infinite amount of information that could be displayed in this manner. While they didn't show it, one could imagine showing intra-building pedestrian flows, evacuation simulations, snow drift projections, flooding, seasonal sunlight angles, effects of different shrubberies, and so on.
We think this is an incredible development that may spawn an opportunity for new 3D businesses.