What is augmented reality (AR), and how is it used in construction?
AR, or augmented reality, blends our physical and digital realities together. This technology, which originated from the gaming world, has also found its way into the field of interior design, for instance. Take Ikea Place, a mobile application that allows interior designers to place digital furniture in their actual home environment and see if the wardrobe fits and complements the planned location before making a purchase.
However, this simple solution is merely scratching the surface of augmented reality’s true potential. There are far more groundbreaking examples, particularly in the medical field, where AR has been employed in surgical procedures.
Now, let’s delve into how augmented reality functions and its implications in the construction sector.
A Glimpse into the Future: How Does Augmented Reality Work?
Augmented reality enhances our physical reality by integrating 3D and 2D digital objects, providing users with the ability to interact with them as desired. To perceive this virtual reality, a digital screen is required. Such screens can be in the form of tablets, smartphones, or specialized glasses.
For precise tasks, Microsoft has developed HoloLens, a pair of augmented reality glasses that allow users to simultaneously visualize the real physical space and a 3D model of the projected construction. These AR glasses employ cameras, sensors, and microphones to detect the user’s location in real-time, seamlessly integrating virtual objects, textual information, or other digital content into their field of view.
How Does Augmented Reality Address Construction Challenges?
While virtual reality (VR) glasses are best suited for brand-new buildings, AR proves most effective when showcasing modifications or additions to existing spaces. VR and AR tackle similar challenges but at different stages of the construction process. Here are a few examples:
- Resolving discrepancies between the 3D model and the actual construction
- Addressing insufficient data that impedes problem-solving
- Minimizing rework, thereby reducing delays and costs
- Mitigating the negative impact on team morale and productivity resulting from unexpected issues and errors
The Advantages of Augmented Reality in the Construction Industry
Augmented reality offers a multitude of applications, many of which remain untapped. As of 2023, it primarily contributes to construction safety, accuracy, and quality, while simultaneously attracting clients and top-tier professionals in the field. Let’s explore these aspects more closely.
- Enhancing Safety with 3D Visualization
The construction sector accounts for 21% of workplace accidents, underscoring the paramount importance of ensuring safety on construction sites. Despite increasingly stringent protocols and procedures, hazards persist.
Augmented reality brings new hope for creating safer environments. AR serves as a safety tool throughout various stages of construction, from pre-planning to on-site activities. For example, AR applications can scan physical objects, generating 3D models that include textual explanations conveying critical safety information.
- Achieving Millimeter Precision
Precision is a crucial aspect of augmented reality. AR replaces the need for construction workers to carry project plans and laser measuring tools. Instead, construction projects are displayed with remarkable accuracy directly onto the physical structure. The digital overlay already contains dimensions and specific locations for fastenings or connections. This streamlined digital layer enables workers to quickly identify where objects should be installed, resulting in significant time savings.
- Seamless Communication with Headquarters
AR glasses facilitate direct communication with headquarters. If a worker encounters an issue, their location and their visual perspective captured by the glasses or other screens can be shared with others via relevant programs. This enables architects, engineers, and clients to participate remotely, offering instructions and guidance through speakers and microphones for enhanced collaboration.
Augmented reality also streamlines documentation by assisting workers in filling out paperwork, tracking work activities and hours, and ensuring compliance with established standards for both the completed work and the responsible workers.
- Winning the Talent Battle
To ensure growth in the construction industry, it is essential to consider the needs of the younger generation. Young individuals accustomed to digital tools quickly adapt to new technologies and naturally expect their employers to do the same. When competitors offer solutions like AR or VR to enhance working conditions, traditional approaches may become unattractive to the younger workforce. The same applies to clients who increasingly seek more than just paper promises to be persuaded.
In conclusion, augmented reality has the real capability to minimize errors in construction projects, eliminate rework, and maintain adherence to construction schedules and budgets. The potential of augmented reality is immense, and it’s only a matter of time before every reputable construction company embraces this technology.
Why lag behind when you can lead the way? Get in touch with us, and we’ll provide consultation on how to maximize the digital transformation of your company.