Real-time, rich-media data communication between the construction site and the off-site design office is becoming one of the important research areas in information technology for construction. This paper presents the concept of a telematic digital workbench, a horizontal tabletop user interface integrating mobile computing and wireless communication to facilitate synchronous construction site to office collaboration. We demonstrate the capabilities and potentials of this system concept for construction defect management. The on-site crew uses a handheld mobile device to collect defect information and transfers the information to the design office through wireless communication by sending the information to a database listener. The digital workbench application monitors the database and synchronizes the location of the visual information on the site with the 3D model on the server. Integrated with 3D viewing capability in a CAD system, designers can interact with the combined model/site data using a horizontal and vertical screen. A case study compared the telematic digital workbench against paper-based and Pocket PC-based methods for defect management in a controlled laboratory experiment. The case study results show that the telematic digital workbench has the potential to improve the accuracy of matching site data to digital data and reduce information loss between site and office collaboration.
Automation in Construction Vol. 18, Issue 6, p. 814-824