Why Augmented Reality and 3D Visualization Hold the Key to Facilities Management in a Post-COVID World

A recent article on Buildings discusses the disruptive applications of Augmented Reality in facilities management. The technology is beneficial for a range of industries, such as healthcare, education, manufacturing, etc. Research film VR Intelligence revealed that around two-thirds of businesses working on AR are focused on industry.

More than 1.5 billion AR-enabled devices are in the market, which building owners and operators have utilised before the technology was embraced at a widespread level.  During this time, emerging technology, such as IoT and smart building strategies were getting increasingly integrated, opening the door to AR applications.

When the pandemic started, facilities managers were calculating how to safely reopen their businesses. As the UK gradually comes out of lockdown, facilities management is a priority for ensuring employee safety. Actions they must consider when reopening their buildings include:

  • Avoiding unnecessary travel
  • Decreasing the number of physical objects that must be touched
  • Limiting the number of people on-site
  • Reducing physical proximity of employees on-site

AR and 3D visualisation allow staff to achieve the above goals with minimum resources. Specific examples given in the article are as follows:

  • Limiting number and proximity of staff: Digital twins can be used to merge digital data with a building’s physical structure, making “context-aware insights” available. This allows for tasks that previously required physical visits to be completed remotely. Technicians can identify as well as assess issues using the technology from home.
  • Going contactless: Buildings that use IoT to link smart devices such as thermostats, security cameras, and lights can be controlled via AR apps. Physical devices can be managed on a visual interface by pointing a smartphone or tablet at connected devices. Vendors, visitors, and tenants can ring the doorbell and call for an elevator without having to physically touch anything, reducing exposure to viruses. Additionally, digital concierge apps can replace information desk representatives to guide visitors. AR content can be accessed at points of interest as visitors navigate the space, which reduces staff proximity.

The article concludes by stating that the AR market size is expected to increase at a CAGR of 46.6%, reaching $72.7 billion by 2024. AR offers many advantages for facilities managers, therefore every building should eventually offer a range of AR applications once they make the choice to innovate.

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