Construction industry hasn’t been known as an industry, which implements new technological changes quickly, but in case with Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality, construction has become an early adopter of these two the most advanced technologies in existence.
Many see the primary applications for VR and AR tech as gaming and entertainment, rather than in a professional environment. Moreover, they tend to lump these technologies together when in fact, each are used quite differently in the design/construction process.
Safer working environment
Virtual Reality plays the same role in construction industry, as it has been playing for years in aircraft industry. Aircraft pilots have learnt how to fly under simulated conditions for years before entering the potentially dangerous environment in which they operate. Similar practice has been adopted for construction workers.
VR technologies are giving opportunity for pre-site training by creating simulated site scenarios. Training can be adjusted for all construction activities and through real-time visualization technology. Advanced computer simulations can create amazingly convincing environments, so workers can have the feeling of operating real power tools and other equipment. The simulation can create unexpected situations that were previously difficult or impossible to recreate in training on work site, such as what to do if a ladder or scaffolding collapses.
In addition to its uses in training, VR also can serve as an invaluable tool for health and safety awareness. Employees can walk around the virtual site to familiarize themselves with fire exits, facilities and the layout of the building at any phase in the construction program.
Visualizing the finished product
It is time and finances consuming to implement changes during ongoing construction process. Blueprints may need to be resubmitted and re approved by the city or other government authorities. Materials needs may change, and even a small design alteration may have unforeseen effects on other parts of the construction. It is hard work to predict everything before job starts. Virtual reality technology offers a creative and elegant solution to this. With VR, blueprints can be brought to life before a single worker sets foot on the job site. Clients and architects can view the completed building from any angle, life-size, and can even roam the halls to spot hidden problems or flaws.
Remote Site Tour
VR technology can provide a convincing and accurate tour of a jobsite to people, who are financially responsible for a construction project, but cannot visit it because of remote location of the project or under other different circumstances. Using VR to stream from a 3D camera, executives and other responsible parties will have feeling as they are physically presented at construction site. In this way, VR can prevent miscommunications, keep plans on track, and prevent wasted time and work. One amazing company at work doing remote site tours is Babylon VR.
Augmented Reality as a Construction Worker Safety Assistant
One of the most exciting applications of the new VR technologies in construction is the possibilities for augmented reality technology. Unlike virtual reality, AR allows the user to maintain full awareness of the real world, but superimposes additional information onto the user’s surroundings.
As the hardware becomes more economically viable for mass deployment and the user interfaces become more and more accessible, AR could transform the way structures are built. Workers could wear headsets as they work, maintaining a steady view of the building plans as they bring them to life. Materials and fixtures could be quickly and easily put into precise alignment, without the need to consult paper documents.
Even more importantly, workers could be given a situational awareness of the locations of other workers and pieces of heavy equipment. Fast-moving problems like unstable platforms or slipping equipment could be instantly sent directly to nearby workers’ headsets, allowing them to correct the issue before they become safety hazards.
These are the types of practical, real-world applications that make virtual reality so exciting. Give VR a little thought, and the applications for literally any industry will come to mind. The technology is able to not only bring us into the virtual world, but also make life out here in the real world safer and better.