Irish-founded tech company creates holographic building sites

XYZ Reality’s goggles allow builders and construction crews to view blueprints in living 3D

What’s the point in designing a 3D building, but then converting those plans to flat, 2D shapes on paper? That’s the thinking behind a new virtual reality system developed especially for building sites by XYZ Reality.

Although based in the UK, XYZ is the brainchild of Irish-born David Mitchell. Mitchell, who studied at the Waterford Institute of Technology, is both founder and chief executive of XYZ and told The Irish Times that: "2D is an unnatural language for humans; we see everything in 3D, yet tradespeople are being asked to interpret 2D drawings, conceptualise the 3D asset and then build the asset on-site to within construction 'tolerances'.

"Works are currently validated after the fact through laser scanning. Eighty per cent of the time the construction fails to meet acceptable tolerances. With HoloSite, we can prevent errors happening in the first place.”

According to Mitchell, these errors in construction mean that 7-11 per cent of project costs can be wasted, and in mega-projects this amounts to an average of £70 million (€80 million).


Margin of error

HoloSite is essentially a goggled headset, which allows those working on a major construction project to see the plans, projected in full-size 3D in front of them, with a margin of error of just 5mm. The concept has long been used in aerospace and car manufacturing, enabling engineers and designers to package and prove the validity of designs long before a physical prototype is actually built.

Mitchell’s plan is that by allowing workers to see what the architect intended in front of their eyes, rather than on a page, means that problems will be flagged up earlier, and positioning of major building elements will be improved.

Beyond that, Mitchell’s ultimate ambition is to get rid of paper plans entirely. Having started his working life on building sites, Mitchell has spent his career in the industry, with his experience spanning digital construction and architecture. It was when the recession hit in 2008 that Mitchell started looking for a way to transform the industry. In 2016, he had his self-proclaimed ‘eureka moment’ – eliminate 2D in its entirety.

XYZ Reality recently closed a £5 million (€5.7 million) Series A investment round, led by Amadeus Capital Partners and Hoxton Ventures, with participation from Adara Ventures and J Coffey Construction. The new funding, says Mitchell, will enable the company to further improve the user experience by doubling the size of the technology team, expand its development team, and build its sales and marketing operation.

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe

Neil Briscoe, a contributor to The Irish Times, specialises in motoring