Building Magazine


Ryerson architecture professor debuts new augmented reality design software

Designers and architects have long experienced a disconnect between their designs and the application of that design in the real world; what seems ideal in the studio or lab may simply not translate on site. New software developed by Ryerson Architectural Science professor Vincent Hui and his co-researcher employs augmented reality to bridge that gap.

The Augmented Reality in Development Design (ARIDD) project is the brainchild of Hui and his former student turned co-researcher Matthew Compeau; it builds on a previous augmented reality (AR) app designed by Hui in 2011. By definition, augmented reality is the superimposing of computer generated information on top of physical reality, viewed on a computer, personal device or via projection. Using AR technology, the software designed by the pair takes student work and loads it on to an augmented reality marker, which is then printed. That marker or ‘tag’ can then be placed in either a scaled environment in studio or in real time and space at the site location.  The software reads the marker with an HD camera and lays an image of the architectural design on top of the existing environment, viewed on a laptop or tablet device.

Students experience a multi-dimensional, full 360 degree view of their building in that location, allowing them to assess their design for such factors including day lighting, zoning constraints, acoustics, responses to social and historical factors as well as aesthetic considerations.

“The software emerged from a desire to continue the innovative teaching we have integrated into the Department of Architectural Science, starting with instructional support via online tutorials, then into investigative support via the Arch-App, and now with interactive capacity via the ARIDD platform,” says Hui. “Though augmented reality is becoming ubiquitous in many industries, the innovation lies in the platform’s capacity as a design development tool in bridging the gap between design on a computer screen and real world context.”

The use of augmented reality as a teaching tool has become more popular in recent years; accessibility to such software has increased thanks in large part to increased affordability. And while the use of AR in the classroom is not new, the application of AR in architecture specifically is underutilized. To remedy this, Hui and Compeau designed the ARIDD software, with the main objective of allowing students to visualize their designs in real time in the physical world.  Whether in the classroom or on the street, the ARIDD software gives the user a true sense of context that is not available with other programs, greatly improving design effectiveness and efficiency. The software also allows students to make changes to their designs on the fly, removing the need to remodel, render and photomontage their design with each iteration.

To date, the software has been successfully tested on two groups of Ryerson architectural science students. Students benefit from being able to quickly and intuitively alter their designs in a hybrid of virtual and physical realities, an experience and skill that will be of benefit to them when they become professionals.  The prototype of the ARIDD project was made possible by funding from Ryerson University’s Learning and Teaching Enhancement Fund. Hui will be presenting the software and findings to date at this month’s Building Technology Educators Society conference in Rhode Island.

As with any prototype, the ARIDD project continues to transform. Both Hui and Compeau continue to develop the software and anticipate the finished product benefitting not only students but the professional practice.


To view the ARIDD software in action, view the following videos on Ryerson’s Youtube channel:

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