Benefits and Challenges of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality in Construction

BBN Times recently published an article detailing the advantages and difficulties of implementing Augmented and Virtual Reality in the construction industry. Despite slow integration compared to other sectors, construction companies have recognised the potential of AR and VR technologies.

ARVR applications provide an improved customer and employee experience. The following benefits of AR and VR in construction detailed in the article are:

  • Immersive Experience: Using ARVR technology, construction companies can create a 3D model of properties, as well as an AR overlay of furniture, for potential buyers. VR can then provide a complete tour using the virtual image of a furnished apartment, giving a clear idea of how the finalised apartment will look.
  • Effective planning: Quick and efficient communication is vital for completing construction projects on schedule. AR headsets can transfer site data recorded by engineers or supervisors to the design team to identify and fix any issues. Managers or contractors can conduct a virtual walkthrough of a site using an AR overlay of Building Information Model (BIM) on top of the physical model for assessment and review. In guiding workers with proper material alignment, AR helps to reduce errors, time, and cost.
  • Improving safety standards: In 2017, 971 deaths occurred in construction, 20.8% of total private sector deaths. AR and VR technology can give precise locations of potentially hazardous equipment around the site. Training can also be provided using ARVR, eliminating physical hazards for workers. A US-based company has adopted VR safety training courses to teach correct procedures and increase employee safety.

Some challenges of AR and VR also addressed in the article include:

  • Lack of knowledge and training: A limited number of professionals have experience and knowledge of AR and VR, as adoption is at a basic level. Workers are often accustomed to conventional construction practises, with little technical knowledge, therefore ARVR training can be time-consuming.
  • Lack of resources allocated to IT: Due to its reliance on traditional methods, construction has seen less technological advancements than other industries. Less than 1% of annual construction sales is spent on IT. The large amount of human and capital resources needed to develop technology means that adoption is increasing very slowly in construction.

Despite the barriers to ARVR adoption in the construction industry, digital technologies have greatly improved operations in other sectors. If the construction industry is open to large-scale integration of ARVR, they will benefit from the opportunities provided by the technology.

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