AR and VR Present Huge Potential for Construction Industry

According to GlobalData, a data and analytics company, Augmented Reality is in frequent use within the construction industry, however, businesses are slow to adopt. The industry is gradually changing from its “wait-and-watch stance” to use the technology for increasing safety, efficiency, and accuracy.

Venkata Naveen, GlobalData Senior Disruptive Tech Analyst, has said that construction companies have integrated Augmented and Virtual Reality following demand to fulfil projects on time and within budget. The technologies help to minimise errors, provide a long term return on investment, and prevent rework.

Despite the advantages of AR, construction companies have been slow to adopt and invest, and there are certain barriers to entry. Naveen has further stated that some potential concerns of AR and VR that are hindering mass adoption include:

  • Wearing heavy headsets for long periods of time
  • Susceptibility to harsh work environments
  • Lack of low latency internet connectivity

Use cases of AR and VR in construction, uncovered by the Digital Solutions Map in Construction of GlobalData’s Disruptor Intelligence Center, are:

  • Project planning design and engineering: XYZ Reality (London) has developed a head-mounted device that combines AR with building information modelling (BIM), allowing contractors to visualise structures. This increases BIM accuracy, eliminates the need for physical floor plans, and enables engineers to identify real-time errors.
  • Virtual collaboration design and engineering: Suffolk Construction (Boston) has partnered with InsiteVR (New York), enabling engineering teams to meet in a virtual environment regardless of location to plan, coordinate, and resolve issues. A VR headset is required to join the platform, so users can identify issues, review designs, and make changes.
  • 4D modelling and visualisation design and engineering: Bentley Systems (Pennsylvania) released their Mixed Reality solution, SYNCHRO XR, for visualisation and 4D modelling of construction projects. Microsoft HoloLens is used by engineers and contractors to interact with digital models via physical gestures. This helps to visualise the schedule as well as identify potential errors.
  • Virtual guidance construction: Fologram (Australia) launched an app that merges physical work environments with digital construction models, aiding complex brick-laying. Computer-aided design software such as Rhino feeds data into the app, which converts it into digital instructions projected onto the Microsoft HoloLens’s display. Masons can improve brick-laying accuracy by using the headsets.
  • Smart glasses construction: Balfour Beatty (British group) implemented AREA member Vuzix’s Blade smart AR glasses for a US construction site. Since COVID-19 prevents on-site visits, the technology allows for a remote request of information from project stakeholders. Site managers can share visual information to remote clients via the smart glasses.

According to Naveem, AR and VR can be coupled with Artificial Intelligence and 5G as the technologies develop, making them an “invaluable asset” to the construction industry.

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