A few years ago, whilst working for Baumann Consulting, I was lucky enough to be the lead at our firm on a project where industry (us) and research (Phil Haves' group at Lawrence Berkley National Lab and Avideh Zakhor's group at UC Berkeley) collaborated to push new ideas into the building and energy space. The project was sponsored by ARPAe and took me to congress with the team to present the backpack to congressmen and senators. RAPMOD was built off a lot of the ideas that the group at UC Berkeley had been working on for many years, with google street view being a predecessor. The purpose was to have a backpack that could be carried around a space and from the data collected create an energy model in EnergyPlus.
The initial research period was 2 years, in that time our job was to test the backpacks accuracy for data collection and compare the time it took for a simulation to be built manually with a model produced from the backpack as well as advise on how to produce a simulation. Further projects came out of this later and I will link to a paper on one of those at the end. Over the course of the project I saw an extraordinary machine develop. RAPMOD could successful scan a three storey building with over 100 thermal zones. It could translate that information into an .idf file (the format for EnergyPlus geometry) it could identify plug loads and lighting loads accurately enough to understand their usage within the building. It could create the beginnings of a very accurate energy model and with out too much input from a modeller get to a heating and cooling load calculation.
RAPMOD is now part of indoor reality a company run by Avideh Zakhor doing amazing things with this technology. The experience of working with such experienced professionals and researchers was one I was very lucky and proud to have been part of.
Below are links to papers written about the energy modelling aspects of this project.