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Augmented Reality Building Operations Tool

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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	<em>A mock up of the ARBOT application at a point of possible fault condition</em></p>

A mock up of the ARBOT application at a point of possible fault condition

Technology Marketing Summary

In the United States, residential and commercial buildings together use more energy and emit more carbon dioxide than either the industrial or transportation section.  According to the Department of Energy, buildings use 39% of our total energy, two-thirds of our electricity, and one-eighth of our water. As a result of these fundamental environmental issues, the increasing cost of energy and our current economic challenges, there has been a growing urgency to operate building systems with automated energy efficient measures.  These automated systems, known as building energy management systems, are computer based systems that control and monitor the heating, ventilation, and lighting needs of a building to achieve maximum energy efficiency.  Unfortunately, current systems lack the functionality and precision required to provide large improvements in energy efficiency and cost savings to building operators.  Current building energy management systems receive data from numerous sensors on or near system components and transmit the data to a management database. A human operator analyzes the data and determines if system components require maintenance. As a result of the large number of monitored components and possible fault conditions, alerts that could indicate an underperforming piece of equipment are simply ignored or left unchecked.  Additionally, the response to a triggered fault requires multiple workers to first diagnose the problem, and then engage in a time consuming trial and error process to determine the effects of the change.  This system adds additional work to an already busy building operator and can lead to an inefficient building energy management system.  There exists a need in the art for a more efficient system that allows technicians to access and analyze data at the source of a fault to determine, in real time, if adjustments are having the desired impact, and to control those adjustments directly.


The Augmented Reality Building Operations Tool (ARBOT) uses a mobile device such as a smart phone and an ARBOT server linked to the building management system to provide real time operating data to the technician at the point of a possible fault condition. This system allows a single building systems operator to take a real-time image of a piece of building system equipment with a mobile device and send both the image and the location of the equipment to the building management system through the ARBOT server.  Once the system identifies the equipment, an image is transmitted back to the operator which provides the information required for actionable guidance at the point of failure or poor performance. The technician is then able to use the mobile device to perform diagnostics or maintenance on an underperforming piece of equipment, order replacement equipment, or store a reminder to perform an operational check.  The ARBOT system provides technicians with building management data on site and in real-time while they are inspecting/maintaining building equipment through an easy to use client interface that is applicable for technicians with minimal training and experience in diagnostics, commissioning, and maintenance. 

  • Increased Building Efficiency
  • Reduced labor costs
  • Reduced energy costs
Applications and Industries
  • Hybrid Commercial buildings
  • Industrial Buildings
  • Residential Buildings
Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 8,830,267
Augmented reality building operations tool
A method (700) for providing an augmented reality operations tool to a mobile client (642) positioned in a building (604). The method (700) includes, with a server (660), receiving (720) from the client (642) an augmented reality request for building system equipment (612) managed by an energy management system (EMS) (620). The method (700) includes transmitting (740) a data request for the equipment (612) to the EMS (620) and receiving (750) building management data (634) for the equipment (612). The method (700) includes generating (760) an overlay (656) with an object created based on the building management data (634), which may be sensor data, diagnostic procedures, or the like. The overlay (656) is configured for concurrent display on a display screen (652) of the client (642) with a real-time image of the building equipment (612). The method (700) includes transmitting (770) the overlay (656) to the client (642).
National Renewable Energy Laboratory 09/09/2014
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
ROI- 10-06PrototypeAvailable06/24/201106/24/2011

Contact NREL About This Technology

To: Erin Beaumont<>