SmartMUD.IO is hack that combines lasers with tech pioneered by the Romans. Concrete is often considered a low-tech material on today's job site but the placement of concrete structures are typically the single most expensive single-day operations on a job site. Concrete is an essential bulk building material that carries significant costs and risk. When concrete is placed incorrectly, it is expensive to correct. We are inspired by the following question: How can tech make concrete better?
What it does
SmartMUD is a processing, analysis, and visualization pipeline that processes high-fidelity data and turns it into real-time graphics. The flatness of a finished concrete slab is a measure of quality. SmartMUD assesses the flatness of a concrete slab while it's still wet and provides a visual representation of the current quality in augmented reality. This real-time combination of data, analysis, and visualization is a unique innovation and not currently in use on job sites today.
How I built it
SmartMUD has been built using open-source software, which is a departure from the proprietary hardware-based packages on the market today. A laser scanner scans a job site concrete operation, periodically creating a file with millions of points. This file gets transferred to a computer via Wi-Fi, where it is automatically processed using CloudCompare, an open-source point cloud metrology package. The segmented, colorized point cloud is then transferred to a Unity application, which imports the cloud, associates it with a visual anchor system, and overlays the cloud on the actual concrete slab using augmented reality.
Challenges I ran into
Weather. We had set up a job site visit to test SmartMUD.IO but weather in the Chicago area delayed concrete operations. We did a mockup in Travis' garage instead. From a technical point of view, we broke some stuff. Unity graphics shaders got funny when displaying point clouds with Vueforia libraries.
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
Job site analysis of concrete tolerances with LIDAR are currently possible, but an automation pipeline with analysis and visualization in real-time using augmented reality is a true innovation and possibly a world's first.
What I learned
I personally listened to ALL of Ricardo Khan's YouTube ukulele videos. (He's so much more than a simple VDC guy.) I learned Jake Olsen knows himself a slump test. Taylor Cupp is passionate about concrete operations. And I have several million data points that document Travis Voss' collection of sporting goods in his garage. I'd also never programmed graphics shaders before, hacked a $30k piece of laser equipment, or uttered the words "scalar field."
What's next for SmartMUD - Tech-Enabled QA / QC for Concrete Placement
The vision is to make construction more like a factory and manufacturing. In a factory, there are sensors that continuously monitor the production. On a job site, we use people. As construction moves more towards manufacturing methods, we need to automate our QA / QC systems. The goal is to create a production-focused digital twin, which aggregates both supply chain and job site information, with analysis.