Virtual Reality (VR)and Augmented Reality (AR) in construction industry

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality (VR/AR) allows engineers/architects to take their designs to a whole new plane, opening up far-reaching opportunities for the construction industry.

Accorsing to the current projections, worldwide construction spending will reach $15.5 Trillion by 2030. By 2028, when its market share is expected to reach $250 Billion, AR/VR technology could completely change the entire market.

Meanwhile. the newest AR/VR technologies can cut the building costs by up to 90% and save the construction industry up to $15.8 Billion through preventing mistakes caused by insufficient or inaccurate data.

The building industry has made steady advances toward more technologically advanced processes. AR and VR are built on top of existing technologies to give construction teams more information and help them plan better.

Benefits and limitations of AR/VR technology

Construction companies that successfully adopt and integate new technologies gain a compititive edge. That's why AR/VR technology has the potential to take the innovators to the next level. However, Ar/VR needs to gain traction before we see it in the wider use. Like every new tool, AR/VR technologies has some advantages and limitations. The advantages of AR/VR technology outweighs the limitations.

The advantages of AR/VR techology are:

  • Lower development costs and reduced time: Construction companies can employ AR/VR technology to plan a project from beginning to end, streamline the processes involved in most building projects, and decrease the guesswork, thus saving time and money while providing substantial design insights to clients and engineers/architects, and ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

  • Enable training safety: The construction sector operates in a high-risk field, but thanks to VR-based training solutions, professional can recreate real-life events in a fully immersive risk-free environment.

  • Improve collaboration and communication: VR tools ensure a more transparent project development process and more productive partnerships.

At the same time, there are still some limitations:

  • Weather-sensitive equipment and static environment: Equipment is frequently exposed to the adverse weather, and equipment performs best when the environment remains largely unchanged.

  • Need strong internet connection: While augmented reality apps can work offline, real-time collaboration will not be possible without the internet.

  • The necessity of learning curve: A new application like AR comes with a learning curve that may prevent companies from investing in the technology. But, with the advent of open-source mobile toolkits for AR, the cost of developing augmented reality apps is decreasing, and small-to-medium bussinesses have begun to reap the benefits of AR building.

Although, in spite of the limitations, AR/VR technology is still floorishing in the construction sector. These technologies are really the gamechanger.

AR enhancements in the construction process

AR apps can see and interprete the outside world in real-time to project images onto it, bringing outstanding gains for the construction industry. Furthermore, 3D blueprints help project teams to avoid errors and troubleshoot the problem areas before the start of construction work. Teams can quickly understand where everything will be built, from ducting to pipes, columns, windows, and access points. This way, it is easier to make changes before, during, and after the project.

While most projects are still in the planning stages, they are moving on rapidly. Many firms are forging ahead with comprehencively simulated construction. Floor plans created via a 3D model that acts as the AR interface is an example of the types of projects that have been in the work since 2016.

VR changes the construction workflows

Construction is up against the increased demand for building efficiency, putting more pressure on engineers and architects to pinpoint potental issues early in the planning stages of the building process. At the same time, virtual reality technology provides a practical planning and rendering tool. Developers are widely using it to review real 3D realizations of architectural design.

Using a combination of BIM technology and immersive VR handset, engineers and architects can get a better sense of a space before it physically exists and can therefore better plan out their apprach to building it.

Moreover, the technology allows firms to make a more compelling case when bidding for a new project: they can take the stakeholders on a virtual tour of the future space instead of presenting a 2D rendering or a model.

AR/VR applications in construction

Construction is not a single process but a series of stages to go through to complete a project. The AR/VR approach is unique in that it is not confined to a single step or setting, and it can be used to solve the problems faced by a variety of specialists in this sector.

Project planning: The value of AR/VR technology in construction begins in the planning and permission stages. Combined with 3D modeling software and BIM, construction companies can produce detailed, interactive model of building projects and present them to client from the outset of a project. It is critical to ensure that your project plan aligns with the stakeholders' requirements.

Monitoring real-time project data: Incorporating all the digital information and documentation of a project with its physical location is one of the significat benefits of using AR technology in construction. The technology can help users to access and visualize data such as the location, style, and the types of additions to the building shell, ranging from architectural components such as windows and doors to MEP elements like ducts and pipes.

For on-site crews, the ability to merge all digital information and documentation with their physical view is a game-changer. For example, Microsoft Hololense can display the physical dimensions of a space. This data can then be included in the 3D models, allowing for more precise visualization and construction processes. As the industry strugles with productivity, this application will be an indispensable part of project management.

Streamlining processes: AR/VR technology is proving it can streamline efficiency across the board and throughout different teams during a project. It has taken the concept of 3D modeling  to the new heights and made it far more accessible. AR and VR models can now be rapidly and easili shared across the team, which boosts collaboration regardless of location.

For instance, with Akular VR, a cloud-based technology, users can view 3D models of physical environments on their smartphone or tablet. In addition, the technology optimizes BIM models and allows users to examine them on-site, enabling team members to send data such as BMS and IoT sensor data in real-time.

Ensuring safety and improving workplace safety standards: Safety is of paramount importance, wether we are talking about workplace protocols or establishing and implementing a quality program. These days, safety protocols and technology are merging to help better equip team members to perform their jobs.

Nevertheless, the construction industry still expriences a significant number of workplace injuries. For example, in the United Kingdom muscular-skeletal injuries account for 57% of accidents.

To this end, developers are finding innovative approaches to improve safety standards. For example, computer prototypes can assist in identifying potential risks before the start of a project. In addition, workers can familiarize themselves with the layout, rigging, and machinery (or tools), and find out how to perform the job effectively and sucurely inside a simulator.

Creating a clear picture: Specialists can create 3D models of projects using advanced BIM drawings, allowing the consumers to tour their new facility even before the ground has been broken. As mentioned, Microsoft Hololense can measure the physical dimensions of space. Companies can then use these models to correctly calculate the dimensions and preview what the completed project will look like.

The greatest benefit of using augmented reality is seeing how features fit on the site.

It allows project managers to visualize how everything slots together, on-site and to scale, before they order materials or calculate the work required for installation.

On-site revisions allows archtectural discripancies to be detected. High costs and delays can be avoided by promptly adapting to the changes.

Staff training / Safety training: Many jobs in construction involve heavy machinery, which can be dangerous without proper training. With the margin of error so low in many real-world situations, it's clearly best if the workers familiarize themselves with the controls and operations in a safe environment.

Safety programs do, of course, take substantial time and money to implement, but with the help of an AR headset workers can access virtual drills, instructions, and safety scenarios.

CM Labs, the industry-leading platform for creating real-time interacive simulations within virtual environments, was recently tasked with creating a VR training simulator for New York City crane operators. The application allowed the trainees to familiarize themselves with the enormous machines before trying their hands at the real thing. This method of direct learning not only raises their safety awareness and delivers intitutive training, but it also lowers training expenses and downtime.

Remote maintenance: There are many cases where workers know how to fix an issue but might need some guidance in identifying exactly where the fix is required. AR ensures a project will always have a more experienced technician on call, no matter where in the physical world it is located.

By defining a new approach to work, Arvizio Instructor provides a real-time set of instructions that indicate the actions to be taken by technicians or operators. Additionally, with real-time collaborations, field workers and remote experts share information using video, audio, markups and other tools to assist the field worker.

Thanks to new technology, everything can be done without a site visit (or, in the case of a complicated issue, numerous site visits). This saves the organization time and lowers the risk of errors.

Great team collaboration: Effective communication is critical during the course of a construction project. Virtual reality provides an exciting solution that puts the collaborative team on-site without the need for them to travel to the actual construction area.

AR/VR technology allows remote workers to inspect the job site as if they were there in person. Workers can also use augmented reality to capture notes, images, or videos of a problem which later on, distant teams can review.

For instance, The Wild is a software platform that combines AR with VR to enable cooperation between team members. It will let different teams gain access to a virtual workspace that provides design reviews and creats markups. As a result of the more efficient ways of communicating, users will be able to work on projects remotely.

Simpler project modifications: As discussed, a major step forward driven by augmented reality is the ease with which users are now able to make changes to the building models directly on the field site. For project modifications, this means that by using a headset or mobile device, any operator can easily display the interior or exterior views of a structure and make modifications to the virtual plans while keeping the original concept intact.

Engineers, for example, will soon be able to digitally remove and relocate structural components and change the plan of a structure with just a few touches on an AR-enabled tablet. This application will be valuable for engineers as it allows them to troubleshoot any arrors in a virtual view before applying changes to the physical structure.

Furthermore, since this digital data is continuously updated, it removes the guesswork from project changes while improving workflow and preventing wastage of materials.

Speeding up sales cycle: We have already seen how virtual and augmented reality in construction allow for the testing of buildings before the are constructed. This becomes all the more advantageous when you are dealing with a hundred-million-dollar building project, and your client want to see how it is going to work.

VR and AR technology can shorten the sales cycle. For example, a sales team can provide future tenants with a view of how their property should look when the construction is done. In addition, it allows employers to attract prospects by showing the future facility.

Real-life examples of using AR/VR in construction

Now that we have mentioned some of the current applications at the forefront of this revolution of VR/AR technology in construction, let's have a closer look at the most interesting case studies.

DAQRI Smart helmet: The DAQRI sart helmet is a helmet capable of visualizing projects and 3D models in augmented reality as an emmersive and large-scale 3D environment. Teams can compare work-in-progress to the original design and thus improve work accuracy.

Dalux: Dalux, on the other hand provides three augmented reality civil construction solutions. The Dalux viewer is a free iOS and Android applications that allows users to develop a 3D model and digital drawings on the actual construction site. Dalux Build integrates augmented reality with other tools to make it easier to manage building projects, providing a constant flow of data. DaluxFM, for its part, provides solutions for facility management, such as planning and asset management, as well as contracts for outsourced and associated services, electrical maintenance, hydraulics, rent control, and site preservation activities.

Fologram: Fologram uses augmented rality glasses like the Hololense to turn 3D models into full-size construction instuctions. The program aims to facilitate the construction of complex projects that require a series of measurements, verification, and specific care through digital instructions that are virtually superimposed on the workspace, guiding masons step-by-step during the construction process.

New Rochelle: New Rochelle, a mid-sized communit in New York, had its downtown area regeneration program enhanced by a virtual reality platform that allowed users to see about 3 million square feet of changes and renovations in 360-degrees views.

In addition, the city planners received comments on the various proposed changes by making the experience available to residents on headsets and mobile devices.

Nova: Nova is a large hospital in Finland that brings together primary health care, special health care, and social services. The company behind the project created a VR experience based on BIM, which had a big impact on the rollout of the scheme.

For example, the design was made available to hospital staff, who then offered feedback and suggestions for changes. The technology also allowed hospital staff to familiarize themselves with the new workplace beforehand, easing their transition.

The future of AR/VR in the construction industry

When it comes to the evolution of the construction industry, investment in AR/VR-based technologies can no longer be seen as a minor add-on. AR/VR innovations have the potential to become integral to the sector, especially in light of external shocks such as COVID-19, which showed how important it is to be able to incorporate digital solutions and to operate remotely.

Although, only large construction businesses have fully upgraded to AR/VR so far, as the technology bacomes more affordable and 5G networks expand, we will see the industry becoming ever more dynamic and compititive.

InfraGimo can provide Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) technology for the infrastructure construction companies.