Autodesk Research

Placing Sensors in the Revit Model
November 5, 2010

Sensors in BIM
Figure 1: (Left) Physical sensors embedded in each cubicle. (Right) Digital sensors placed in the Revit model.

Following our blog on Implementing a Sensor Network at 210 King, in this blog we describe how to place sensors within a Revit model, so we can make semantic links between physical sensors and their corresponding BIM sensors (Figure 1). In general, sensors are just like any other families found in a typical Revit file, although Revit currently does not include a native sensor family by default. Therefore, we created a custom sensor family for the Digital 210 King project. Our sensor family is called "Networked Sensor" and it appears by default under the Specialty Equipment category in Revit Project Browser. Our Networked Sensor family includes the following types of sensor:

  • Camera
  • CO
  • CO2
  • Current
  • Humidity
  • Irradiance
  • Light
  • Moisture
  • Movement
  • Occupancy
  • Pressure
  • Smoke
  • Sound
  • Temperature
  • Wind Direction
  • Wind Speed

When creating our sensor family, we had to create a number of custom parameters to address the following requirements for our project:

  1. IFC Parameter: A key consideration in creating a sensor family is to make sure that sensor is actually recognized as a sensor object when exported through international file standards such as Industry Foundation Class (IFC). Figure 2 shows the IFC parameter associated with a sensor, which also includes sensor type i.e. LIGHTSENSOR.
  2. IFC Parameters
    Figure 2: IFC parameter to sensor family.

  3. Linking sensors to a cubicle Another important consideration is how to create a parent-child relationship between the embedded sensors and their hosting cubicle. In doing so we can link sensor data such as Motion to occupancy information associated with a cubicle. Within our Revit model each cubicle is defined as a station (Figure 3). This is a custom parameter we added in order to distinguish among all the instances of our cubicle family. As for the sensors, first we have to semantically indicate at what level this sensor is collecting data (e.g. station), and second, we have to identify a specific hosting cubicle by referencing numbers provided from our facility manager. Therefore, we added two custom parameters to accurately link each sensor to a particular cubicle or station (Figure 4).
  4. Cubicle Sensors in Revit
    Figure 3: Adding a custom parameter to each cubicle to distinguish among all the instances of our cubicle family distributed throughout our office floor.

    Sensor Properties Dialog
    Figure 4: Sensor parameter to define its scope for data collection, and its specific hosting cubicle.

  5. Linking physical sensors to sensors in Revit: Collected data from each physical sensor is stored in our web server under a specific identification number found on each Phidget sensor. To correlate a Revit sensor to an actual sensor we have to individually select each sensor in the Revit model to write down their specific ID in the field highlighted below (Figure5).
  6. Revit Sensors Sharing UUID
    Figure 5: Linking Revit sensors to actual sensor data by sharing the same ID.

We can now collect live and archival building data that is correctly associated with the building information model for visualization and analysis.

Revit Model Sensors - Networked Sensor Family
ZIP - 0.175MB

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