Reducing barriers to remote project planning: Comparison of low-tech site capture approaches and image-based 3D reconstruction

Andrew P. McCoy, Mani Golparvar Fard, Ellen T. Rigby

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This work provides an analysis of the applicability of two image-based three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction techniques - (1) four-dimensional augmented reality (D4AR) 3D reconstruction software and (2) phototourism applications - for remote site construction project planning. Remote sites present uncertainty to construction project planning through access, material and resource availability, potential lack of technical expertise on site, and environmental considerations. Both D4AR and phototourism have the potential to minimize remote site uncertainty by using available camera technology to digitally capture existing site conditions for the development of accurate 3D modeling for construction project planning. For this study, the researchers (1) analyzed the applicability of D4AR 3D reconstruction and phototourism software applications to remote construction planning; (2) determined the appropriateness and robustness of various levels of camera technology for capturing existing conditions on remote sites; and (3) evaluated the impact of image resolution and the method of capture on 3D image-based software - all key facets to usability and access. The researchers used three cameras of various performance capabilities, i.e., a 35-mm disposable box camera, a 5.7-17.1-mm (35 mm equivalent: 37-111 mm) low-level digital camera, and a 1.6-megapixel (MP)/cm2 high-level digital single-lens reflex camera. The following paper outlines a methodology for testing these camera technologies and discusses their appropriateness for reducing barriers to the application of image-based reconstruction techniques for remote site construction planning. This work offers the conclusion that ordinary camera technology is an appropriate option for capturing existing conditions in remote sites (usability), while more advanced camera technology offers better total system benefits (access) of the image-based 3D reconstruction platform. D4AR offers a more robust system for modeling remote sites; however, both D4AR and phototourism have the potential to generate useful computer models using catalogs of digital images to enable better planning and execution of construction projects in remote areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5013002
JournalJournal of Architectural Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014


  • Augmented reality
  • Building technology
  • Construction innovation risk
  • Construction planning
  • Innovation
  • Remote site planning
  • Three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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