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Last edited 12 Feb 2019
Real time can be defined as the actual time during which something takes place. This can apply to an event or process.
When this concept is applied to computing, it might be referred to as ‘working in real time’. This may be the actual time taken by a computer to solve a problem, starting from the point data is inputted to the point the result or solution is outputted.
A computer that is working in real time can respond immediately to operator input; it will update the data it already holds as soon as it is inputted by the user. This updating takes place at the same rate as the information is received.
Furthermore, a computer working in real time can control the environment from which it is receiving data. Take the example of air traffic control. The computer receives data that is constantly changing, processes it sufficiently quickly then returns it rapidly enough to be able to affect the environment at that time.
This can be useful for building management systems that are able to monitor and control systems such as heating venitlation and air conditioning, cctv, security and access control, maintenance services and so on. In addition, the advent of building information modelling and the use of technolodies such as drones to monitor activity on site, mean it is increasingly possible to manage construction activities based on real time information.
NB the term 'real time' is sometimes also used to refer to simulations that run at the same speed as the real world. For example, real time simulation of constuction activities, or real time immersive environments that allow users to experience buildings before they have been constructed.
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