The construction industry has typically not been extremely dependent on technology. It is only in the past few decades that it has slowly started to integrate modern technology into its process. Firstly, it was with CAD Services which allowed the AEC professionals to create 2D Drawings and 3D models digitally and with enhanced accuracy. It also provided them with tools to better collaborate with other project members. After CAD, the next thing to take over the AEC sector was BIM. The 3D modelling process has benefits in the planning, designing, onsite construction and management phase. CAD and BIM have paved the way for other technological advancements like using drones for monitoring, robots for carrying out repetitive tasks etc. Immersive Technologies are the latest trend in the AEC industry which has benefits throughout the construction process.
What is Immersive Technology?
Immersive Technology aims to create a unique experience by merging the physical world with digital or stimulated reality. The two main types of immersive technologies are virtual reality and augmented reality. They share many of the same characteristics but have subtle differences. Augmented Reality is an enhanced version of the real world achieved by visual or auditory elements. Augmented Reality is achieved via technology like scanning a code on the phone for instance. Virtual Reality on the other hand is a computer-generated environment or an image that can also be interacted with via special electronic equipment. A lot of VR and AR is currently used in the gaming industry. It has also recently started being used in the construction industry. Even though it is still in its early stages in the current article we state a few uses of immersive technology.
Immersive Technology for better presentations:
Currently, 3D Rendering Services are used to create picture perfect 3D visualizations, renders and animations that can help the clients get an idea of the final output effectively. Virtual Reality can take this a step further. It can be used to create a final project environment or image of the building complete with the furnishings, interior designs etc. Here, with one click the clients can experiment with different colours, furniture positions, textures etc. Similarly, Augmented reality can be extremely effective to run simulations allowing a proper understanding of the final project outcome. With immersive technology the communication between the designers and clients becomes clearer and it ensures that there is no miscommunication between them.
BIM and Immersive Technology for project planning:
Building Information Modelling goes a long way in streamlining the construction process. With immersive technology and BIM, it will be possible for the AEC professionals to the see building in real surroundings and at real scale. It is also possible to take virtual walks in order to check on design errors and make the required modifications in the preconstruction stage itself. BIM and immersive technology can also provide the contractors, project managers and other stakeholders involved in the construction process to visualize the effect of the changes in real time.
Immersive Technology can also provide them the ability to monitor their projects more effectively. With Augmented Reality contractors and project monitors can take photos, make notes on problems and integrate with the model. It can also be easily shared and members located any different location can access it simply via a phone or a tablet.
Trainings and Risk Mitigation:
Immersive Technology can go a long way in mitigating onsite risk for workers. With Virtual reality it is possible to create no risk simulations like that of operating heavy machinery and complicated tools. Labours and machine operators can learn to operate each piece of equipment without any adverse consequences. Similarly AR can provide direct information to the concerned person on a phone or a tablet. With the information and instructions being handy the errors arising out of miscommunication can be reduced immediately.
Thus, there are various ways in which immersive technology can enable the AEC professionals to better plant and present the building construction process. It can reduce communication gap between the clients and the construction professionals and helps in minimizing risk of workers with proper planning and training.