“Simply put, we believe Augmented Reality is going to change the way we use technology forever.”
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc.
The concept of Augmented Reality (AR) is tremendously transforming the way in which engineers and architects work. The augmented reality market is expected to reach $60.55 billion by the year 2023 and thanks to the use of tablets, smartphones, and other devices, the augmented reality software will lead the growth at that time. It is growing at a rapid pace and is finding its way into every business and industrial application.
Let’s learn more about augmented reality and its applications in the field of construction, in this article.
What is Augmented Reality?
It refers to the interactive experience of a real-world environment where objects present in the real-world are enhanced through computer-generated perceptual information. The overlaid sensory information is seamlessly interwoven with the physical world where it is perceived as an aspect of the real environment.
Augmented reality deals with altering the perception of the real-world environment. Using advanced AR technologies, the information present in the surrounding world of the user are subject to interaction and digital manipulation. One needs to wear special goggles to understand and visualize the finished project even before its completion. This helps the promoters, construction workers, and other people involved in the construction process to know the strong and weak points of the design and helps resolve design issues at the earlier stages of construction, thus making it cost-effective.
How does augmented reality work?
- 3D models relating to all building and construction data are created and combined.
- Users wear an augmented reality headset which is similar to goggles and it orients them to their point of view.
- The building data is digitally displayed in real-time with the user’s physical surroundings.
- GPS and cameras are used to present real-time data geospatially.
Role of augmented reality in construction
1. On-site project information
It helps to combine all digital information and documentation using one’s physical view. Augmented reality offers layers which provide information about the location of switches, windows, walls, pipes, and outlets which can be easily toggled on and off.
Retrieving information about these aspects will help in efficient monitoring of a project against the building plan and aid in a successful completion. A perfect example of this would be a building contractor using an augmented reality headset operated through a tablet or a smartphone to see and modify the location of drill holes in the building.
2. Safety training
With safety being a major concern in the construction industry, the AR headset helps stimulate equipment training and hazard scenarios for educating workers. Using an AR headset lowers training costs and downtime. This is a kind of direct learning which helps provide intuitive learning to workers and help improve their awareness of safety.
The concept of augmented reality is also being explored to virtual models of equipment like boom lifts and cranes. They can practice operating heavy machinery thereby enhancing their learning and development process. Workers will be shown virtual drills, safety scenarios, and instructions.
3. Team collaboration
Construction is an industry which employs a wide range of personnel such as managers, designers, plumbers, welders, carpenters, and electricians. A project completed on time and according to the proposed budget is a perfect example of a successful collaboration. As not all workers would always be available on-site to discuss the change in designs or plans, augmented reality is used.
Augmented reality allows users to take notes and share video views regarding any design issues or errors and share the same in real-time with remote teams. On-site and remote team members are able to coordinate with each other effectively irrespective of the distances. This, in turn, eliminates delays and also reduces the costs which may be incurred to arrive at team decisions.
4. Project planning
Augmented reality allows teams to conduct walkthroughs before a project is executed. It helps to closely examine the components and details of the structure. This helps prevent schedule delays and helps identify mistakes before they surface. Augmented reality makes it possible to generate 3D models directly on a 2D plan.
Using Building Information Modeling (BIM) and 3D modeling software, companies can produce interactive models of building projects and present them to clients even at the commencement of a project. This keeps clients engaged in the project and assists teams in conducting walkthroughs before the execution of the project.
5. Automated measurements
Augmented reality gear has the ability to measure the physical properties of a space such as height, depth, and width. It helps in arranging for the exact labor and materials needed. Fieldworkers can automate measurements on-site using augmented reality.
By wearing an augmented reality headset, workers will be able to tap to measure the built components and compare them against the measurements specified in the models. This helps workers find inconsistencies in the structures in the initial stages of construction and rectify them at the earliest.
Augmented reality is already proving its worth in construction projects across Australia, America, Africa, and the UK. It gives clients the ability to walk through their building even before the laying of the foundation stone. Though the augmented reality technology is still being developed, its potential to improve safety, efficiency, and accuracy on-site is limitless at this point. It is, no doubt, already an impressive piece of technology and more than 65.3% of employees in the construction sector believe that augmented reality will play a vital role in the future of construction and design and will be a common feature within the next decade.