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Revit BIM models + Torch AR: Add the WOW factor to Client Presos

Feel free to open or download Torch (iOS only for now) and follow along.

A lot of my earlier demonstrations of how to use Torch and augmented reality in AEC workflows have focused on Final Coordination Models that were truly multi-disciplined -- projects where we merged Civil Information Modeling (CIM) and Building Information Modeling (BIM) Design models via InfraWorks.

But what if you are a single discipline design firm, or one that doesn’t reach across multiple design software programs and you still want to use augmented reality for design reviews and client pitches? 

If that sounds like you, you’ve come to the right post!

I’m going to show you how to carry your Revit BIM design models into Torch for a unique augmented reality experience that will make your work standout. This demonstration will give you some ideas on how to leverage this technology for Design Review meetings with clients and project teams, and really add that WOW factor!

1. Review & Export BIM Design Models from Revit

When most folks in the AEC Industry talk about BIM, Revit is probably one of the first programs that comes to mind. Revit is widely used across the industry and is being leveraged by almost all major design disciplines. Although this blog guides you to go from Revit to Navisworks to Torch, end users have the ability to bypass Navisworks if that program isn’t readily available to you (refer to Autodesk’s AKN here: Revit Export to FBX).

Inside of Revit, be sure that you are viewing your model in a 3D environment first. Then, using the Add-Ins Ribbon, go to External Tools | Navisworks and export your Revit BIM design model to a .NWCfile to be viewed in Navisworks.

The pedestrian overpass BIM model in Revit, prior to export.

2. Review & Export BIM Design Model from Navisworks

Navisworks is another one of those design programs that typically comes to mind when BIM is mentioned. Navisworks is a tremendous tool that is also widely used for cross discipline coordination, providing useful features like Clash Detections, Reporting, Construction Sequencing, etc. Export your Model by going to File | Export | FBX.

NOTE: Be sure check the boxes ‘Include Textures’ and ‘Embed textures' to your model.

3. Use the Dropbox integration to upload FBX to Torch

You can place your exported FBX model into an attached Dropbox folder for easy uploading and real-time asset updating in Torch projects. Using the Torch Dropbox integration gives you a fast, direct path for custom assets—just make sure to zip you model and its related files beforehand. Any changes you make in your BIM program will automatically update in your Torch project so long as you save the latest version to your Torch Dropbox director.

Getting the model into Torch is really simple. Once you've saved your Revit or Navisworks model, create a new Torch project, select the Add Assets (+) button, scroll to your Dropbox storage, select your FBX model, and then drag-and-drop into your scene.

Note: While Torch supports several ways to import your files like Sketchfab, iOS browse, or the photo roll, the Dropbox integration is my recommendation for large AEC files.

4. Arrange your presentation in space

Once your model is in Torch, you can position and arrange the assets in real space, all through your mobile device’s camera.From here, there are many object properties, interactions (simple animations),and other tools you can use to design and fill out your model viewing AR app.

Bring your plans to life by adding 3D models from Revit via augmented reality.

With Torch, you can create multiple scenes to display both static and animated versions of your AEC design models. You can also add some additional features, like 2D images, GIFs, or title cards with links out to related information or maybe your website.

5. See your work in augmented reality, today

There are so many powerful applications for how augmented reality technology can leverage our AEC design models for better communication and more efficient engineering workflows. Compared to other solutions I’ve tried, Torch is the fastest, most flexible way for BIM and CIM specialists to see their designs in AR today.

Please join me as I continue to venture into the world of augmented reality for AEC, establishing practical use cases, and exploring the best practices for activating your designs with AR technologies.If you have any suggestions or comments on future topics or new features you’d like to see, feel free to reach out to me at stevewalz@hotmail.com!

About the Author:

Stephen Walz has been in the AEC Industry since early 2003. He has taken on many roles in his career, from drafting &designing, CAD and model management, and Implementing company-wide BIM/CIM standards, procedures, and workflows.