National Manufacturing Institute Scotland

Case Studies

Filling in the cracks for building surveyors with innovative AR and AI technology


The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) worked with Edify, a Glasgow-based technology company, to explore using augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve standard processes within the architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) sector.

Customer challenge

The AEC sector aims to improve productivity and quality while reducing waste, with the UKRI Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund targeting 50% improvements across these areas.

The process of inspecting a building can be long, challenging, and prone to human error, while businesses within the sector can also be slow to adopt digital technology to streamline and automate processes.

Edify specialises in fostering AR and AI experiences and was eager to examine how its technology could make a positive impact following an industry engagement exercise carried out by Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC).  A key focus was finding a solution that could reduce the time to effectively survey new structures and lessen the risk of missed cracks.

How did NMIS help?

Funded by CSIC, the NMIS Digital and Automation team collaborated with the Robotics and Autonomous Systems group within the University of Strathclyde ‘s department of Design, Manufacture and Engineering Management to compile a database of the cracks commonly found within the construction sector when carrying out building inspections.

Artificial intelligence software was used to examine the database and detect new cracks automatically before the team developed a proof of concept head mounted AI application designed to be worn by a buildings inspector when examining structures.

When the system detects a crack, the inspector is alerted, and the crack is visualised on a screen with clear markers denoting its location.

Chris Freeman, CPO, Edify, said:

The project was an excellent opportunity for Edify to align its R&D strategy with CSIC’s roadmap and have it supported by The University of Strathclyde.

"The team at NMIS were a great help in testing out some cutting-edge technology and with CSIC’s support, helping us understand how such a capability could be applied to the built environment sector.


Business impact

Edify is now equipped with a ready-made prototype to showcase to the broader AEC industry. Partner companies such as Scottish Water, which could not participate fully in the study due to COVID-19 restrictions, are now investigating the suitability of the developed solution for its assets.