Against the backdrop of declining productivity levels within the construction industry since the 1990s, as highlighted by McKinsey, the digital-physical convergence signifies a paradigm shift in construction practices. The discussion delves into the current state and recent advancements in BIM and AR technologies, noting the recent ubiquity of data-enriched BIM models and the heightened comfort, immersion, and intuitiveness of AR technology. The integration of BIM and AR provides a unique immersive experience of information, allowing stakeholders to witness 3D models in their physical environment. This immersive encounter fosters a clearer understanding of design concepts, mitigating potential errors. On construction sites, AR-equipped devices enables workers to overlay BIM data directly onto the site, providing real-time guidance, streamlining collaboration with the design team, facilitating modifications, and minimizing errors.

While acknowledging the existing obstacles such as the need for precise location tracking, software development, technology comfort and costs, the podcast discusses the possibilities of a future where AR, seamlessly integrates with BIM and transforming construction landscape. This podcast explores the transformative integration of Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Augmented Reality (AR) in the construction industry, emphasizing their synergistic role in advancing On-site Guidance and Precision Construction.


Implementing BIM-MR integration can significantly address common issues in the construction industry, such as delays, inaccuracies, and inefficiencies. By providing on-site, real-time access to BIM data through Mixed Reality (MR) and robotic systems, we can achieve greater precision and oversight. This approach not only enhances control and monitoring but also has the potential to transform construction practices fundamentally.


AR (Augmented Reality) enhances the real world with digital overlays, VR (Virtual Reality) immerses users in entirely virtual environments and MR ( Mixed Reality) blends virtual and real-world elements together, offering a hybrid experience.



GUEST 1 | Nathan Barnes 

Nathan is currently the Innovation Lead at Zahner with a background in computational fabrication of mass customized architectural fabrication. He is driven to develop and encapsulate solutions through technology, a passion for developing inquisitive culture company wide, while finding the balance between human creativity and the precision of our robot overlords. 

He has a background in architecture with a master’s from UTA (University of Texas, Arlington), with an emphasis on digital fabrication. His current research is centered around developing software and hardware improvements to expand what is capable of being built.

GUEST 2 | Dan Rothbart

Dan Rothbart IS A CURRENT Project Engineer at Zahner, he has a Master of Science in Design – Robotics and Autonomous System from University of Pennsylvania, and a Bachelor of Architecture from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.


UNDERSTANDING THE WORKFLOW : The podcast started with diving a bit into the company’s history and understanding the narrative of their workflow and adopted practices. Further expanded on their approach on a project and how they extract the relevant BIM data for their use. The discussion also delved into understanding the various stages of fabrication and how exactly the use of AR, VR systems along with robotics fits into their workflow. 

CHALLENGES: The podcast continues and talks about the technical challenges faced in translating BIM data through different realities system (AR,VR) and robotics in a construction project. The system’s applicability in terms of magnitude/scale and how these systems (in current settings) resolve certain problems specific to precision control and delivering information at sites. We also discussed the technological challenges with getting immersive realities in tune with real life construction scenarios.

FUTURE SCOPE: The podcast concludes with a discussion regarding potential improvements and advancements of these mixed realities system and robotics to make it more effective in construction practices.  


(Our takeaways and feedback on the podcast)

We had two experts present from Zahner for the podcast, we prepared beforehand for this eventuality so as to introduce the potential guests appropriately. The conversations were very enlightening and honest as to the successes and failures within the company on the topic of AR, MR or Robotic Systems. The experts had more expertise within their company on the robotic side and some failures from the AR/MR side so the topic swayed a bit towards that realm which was fine. We struggled to get a response from our initially identified experts that primarily focused in the BIM-AR realm after many attempts to establish communication so we had to pivot the topic a bit for our backup experts which attended, but the constant was still how to utilize BIM for on-site guidance and precision construction using several mediums, their favored medium of choice was just robots.


If technology is the answer……what’s the question?

Our experts through our podcast envision a future where humans are more augmented, and we start to leverage more the things that robots or the machines are good at. In this future, we use machines for their strengths, like accuracy and tracking, while humans focus on areas where we excel, such as understanding material behavior. This teamwork can make us more efficient by letting machines handle tasks we’re not as good at. So, if technology is the solution, the question is: “How can we blend human creativity and insight with the accuracy and speed of machines to boost both our work efficiency and our ability to innovate?”