A device worn like a backpack automatically records room dimensions, the location of HVAC equipment, and electrical sources as it’s carried through a building by a technician, greatly simplifying planning for energy upgrades, the website VPA reports.
The Rapid Building Energy Modeler, or RAPMOD, was created by scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and its partners and is being developed by Baumann Consulting.
The device needs a single pass through the building to create a three-dimensional model, giving engineers and architects information that ordinarily would take much longer to collect. The Berkeley Lab said that in field tests conducted at two West Coast hotels, a technician with a RAPMOD completed indoor mapping in two days, rather than the three months it had previously taken with manual scanning.
In a video posted with the VPA report, Baumann engineer Annie Marston explains that the device records not only the geometry of the building, but the location of lights and electrical outlets and other features that architects would need to pay attention to before planning renovations and upgrades. A 3-D image produced from the recorded data includes an infrared image of each of the rooms and other information that can be transferred into an energy modeling program used to calculate where energy savings can be made.
Developers say it also will be helpful for architectural design.
Among the instruments in the RAPMOD are cameras, laser scanners, a barometer which measures height, and magnetometers that sense the location of metallic structures, the report says. The virtual map of the structure is accurate to within 10 centimeters (about 4 inches).
The device now weighs about 33 lb., but developers are trying to reduce that to 22 lb. It costs $20,000.