Augmented Reality for ArchiCAD Models: SightSpace 3D Workflow


SightSpace 3D is a mobile viewer for Google SketchUp files that is available on iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.  One of its best features, however, is Augmented Reality mode where users can overlay their geo-located digital SketchUp files onto the physical world.  The possibilities for this app are endless and include previewing construction, education, and interior design.  Due to the popularity of the Augmented Reality feature, we wanted to incorporate other 3D modeling programs into our mobile SightSpace app so they could also experience AR. The first workflow I will be discussing is from ArchiCAD. I used ArchiCAD 15 and Google SketchUp 8, but this should work on other versions.

Here is the process:

  1. Download the Google Earth Connections Package which has a plugin to export your model directly to .skp, the Google SketchUp file format (download the plugin from Graphisoft here; if you are on an earlier version of ArchiCAD, the Google plugin is available here for Archicad 11-14 )
  2. Save your ArchiCAD 3D view as .skp, the SketchUp file format.  ArchiCAD will convert the file. If your model is complex, this process can take quite a while.
  3. Open in Google SketchUp.  SketchUp 8 is a free download
  4. Check geolocatation. Augmented Reality works automatically because your device and model are geolocated. To geolocate in SketchUp, select File -> Geolocation -> Add Location. Type in the locale, adjust the size of the region, and click Grab.  Make sure your model is placed correctly on top of the image.  (Here are some great instructions from one of the SketchUp guys)
  5. Export your SketchUp file to .kmz by selecting File -> Export -> 3D Model.

The file is now SightSpace mobile app ready and can be placed onto your device via iTunes, Dropbox, or email. Because your model and your Apple device are both geolocated, when you go into AR mode, your model will appear superimposed on the landscape. Move your device and the view will change in real-time.  If you are not geolocated, then the device will prompt you to tap a point on the screen and then take you into AR mode. One final note: to load the largest models possible, make sure you close all other apps running on your device.

You can watch my tutorial to see the process in action.

Any questions or comments about the process? Email us at, call at 877.663.3797, or visit our support page.