How is Augmented Reality (AR) Changing the View of Construction?
“The traditional view of the building site is changing fast as innovative new technologies are entering the sector,” said Jamie Johnson, CEO of FJP Investment. “You may conjure up images of paper drawings and designs, but these are starting to become obsolete as they make way for futuristic drones, 3-D models, and augmented reality.”
AR is an amazing technology that allows the user to combine the real, physical world with computer-generated information in real-time using cameras and sensors. It’s not difficult to envision how such a technology can be useful in a multitude of ways and the construction industry has certainly embraced it, recognizing its potential.
For the construction industry, AR has shown it can produce more accurate outcomes and increase efficiency in project management. Like with all technology, AR will continue to develop and grow and become more widely adopted, recognizing that it has the potential to revolutionize the way we view, design, and build the cities of the future.
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How does AR technology work?
AR is a step further compared to virtual reality (VR) alone, which completely replaces the real environment with a digital one. While virtual reality is only a digital experience, as impressive as it can be, AR combines the digital with the psychically real world into a whole new way of looking at things. While it is true that some have theorized that even our “physical reality” may be a simulation itself (see the Simulation Hypothesis and Holographic Universe Hypothesis), AR allows the user to project 3-D images onto someone’s physical surroundings when they are wearing a special eyepiece or helmet.
The AR wearable device enables the user to see the real world around them while simultaneously accessing real-time data geospatially about the environment, which changes and updates as the wearer moves around their environment. Useful information can be displayed on-screen or lens, such as schedules and structural plans, making it easier for the wearer to visualize the project’s processes and make decisions while on site.
Also Read: Virtual reality, an industry to exploit
AR in construction
AR is being used in the construction sector for the numerous benefits that it gives, and these include:
- Increased efficiency
- Better safety
- Collaboration is easier.
- Improved financial management
- Project confidence and time-saving
Project planning and investor assurance
AR is continually developing and expanding in scope and capabilities, and now it can be used to create 3-D models directly onto 2-D plans and blueprints. Combined with intelligent BIM software, precise and interactive representations of building projects can be demonstrated to clients and investors before the construction phase has commenced. The benefits of this are clear. It provides a realistic view of what the project will look like when it has been completed and allows for any changes to be suggested at an early stage of the project before expensive alterations are done at a later stage.
Vital elements of construction include details and accuracy, and AR affords the opportunity to walk around and survey the entire project before building work starts, inspecting the smallest details of the overall structure. Any changes required after this walkthrough has been conducted are much easier to implement compared to if building work had already started and mistakes were made.
AR technology can measure a space’s physical dimensions, such as height, width, and depth. This feature is very useful because it allows designers to have a clearer vision of the project and create more accurate models, resulting in better-designed structures. These AR-generated measurements will help save time and improve efficiency.
As well as helping with measurements during the planning phase of the project, AR will soon be able to give onsite workers the ability to automate measurements during the construction phase, too. By comparing measurements taken of the parts that have been constructed already, they can be quickly compared to the plan to make sure they are accurate and to specifications, reducing time and costs on remedial work.
A particularly useful feature of developments in AR technology is the ability it gives to the user to make on-the-spot changes to models while on site. Integrated into interactive BIM software, these changes can be communicated simultaneously to all project workers in a collaborative effort.
Both interior and exterior views can be generated, and one view can be held intact while changes to the model are made to the other. For example, changes to wall or stairwell locations can easily be made or modified, and the layout can be modified with ease.
A large range of specialists are needed in construction projects, including architects, engineers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, welders, site managers, and so effective collaboration is essential to make sure the project goes smoothly and without a hiccup. Effective collaboration helps to make sure the project stays on track and within budget.
Augmented reality and BIM software allow for team members not present on-site to be kept in the loop with developments and collaborate even if they are far from the construction site. Onsite and remote team members can work together and share errors and review necessary changes to put things right.