5 Ways Augmented Reality is Used in the Construction Industry

The construction industry is undeniably one of the oldest and most important industries in the world. It is also one of those industries where new technologies have a tough time finding a foothold and catching on. On the other hand,  AR VR development services is one of the most talked-about and disruptive technologies in the Extended Reality (XR)  landscape that has made waves and proven its value across multiple industries. We are about to see how the groundbreaking technology of Augmented Reality (AR) made its way into the construction sector and became an indispensable part of its infrastructure. 

Let’s begin. 

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented Reality, popularly known as AR, refers to technologies that bring computer-generated objects such as images, sounds, texts, or other digital information into the user’s real-life surroundings. Simply said, AR is a reality; enhanced or “augmented” with digital content. Unlike its XR counterpart, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) does not fully immerse users in the digital environment. Instead, AR allows users to continue interacting with digital information in the physical world. The Snapchat filters that can make you look like a cute kitten or the wide range of shopping apps that allow you to try on their clothes or products without ever leaving their house are the best examples of AR. You may not have forgotten the Pokemon Go game, released in 2016 that quickly became an indispensable sensation, which is another famous example of AR. 

Estimated to reach $88.4 billion by 2026,  AR has emerged as one of the fastest-growing technologies in the world. This appeal is primarily due to its accessibility. To get started with AR, all you need is a smartphone with a camera. AR overlays three-dimensional digital content onto the camera of your smartphone, creating an illusion of holographic content that is part of the physical world around you. Obviously, your smartphone is not the only way to experience AR. Other devices capable of displaying AR include screens, smart glasses, hand-held and mobile devices, head-mounted gear, etc.

Let’s break into the details of how AR works.

How does Augmented Reality work? 

Before adding digital elements, AR recognizes where the physical objects are located in real-life surroundings. This is made possible through computer vision. First, computer vision understands the environment around the user, allowing it to display the digital content relevant to what the user is viewing. The digital information is then displayed in a realistic way so that it looks like part of the real world, this is known as rendering. 

Let’s say you are looking to buy lipstick from a beauty brand and would like to try it on first. So, when you turn on the camera in the beauty app, computer vision scans the raw image in the camera and identifies your facial features, such as your eyes, lips, cheeks, etc. Following that, the application makes some assumptions as there are some universal truths, such as the eye regions being darker than the upper cheeks and the eye sockets being darker than the foreheads. On the basis of this data, the application differentiates between lighter and darker pixels and uses that information to apply the perfect shade of lipstick to your lips.

 Putting e-commerce and gaming aside, you’ll probably be wondering how AR came to be such an important tool in the construction industry. Let’s find out.

Role of Augmented Reality in Construction Industry 

Since the 1940s, there have been very few technological changes in the construction industry. It is one of those industries that runs heavily on manpower with the highest rate of employee turnover, workforce shortages and inadequate resources. In addition to the regular occupational hazards and safety issues, the industry is also susceptible to human errors, which can at times be costly and project-threatening. To keep up with all of these challenges in the age of Industry 4.0, the sector finally opted to adopt the most recent technologies with the desire to build faster, smarter, drive efficiency, and boost margins. One such technology that has been a complete game-changer for the industry is AR.  

Let’s get into the 5 ways in which AR software solutions impact the construction sector. 

  • Project planning and management

AR can be employed right from the beginning of the construction process, starting with the planning phase. The technology of AR makes it possible to create detailed interactive models of projects and present them to stakeholders so they can see what the final project will look like before the actual work begins. This allows for all misunderstandings to be cleared up and nipped in the bud. 

The AR functional tours of the 2D model will provide clients with an in-depth visualization of the project with environmental and social analysis, allowing them to make decisions and adjustments, as well as create a schedule and timeline, prior to the start of the project. Combining AR with building information modeling (BIM)  enables engineers to easily make changes and essential modifications to the project using an AR headset with a digital overlay of the project. Thus, it provides stakeholders with opportunities to prevent budget-killing changes or reworks that can occur while the project is underway.   

  • Collaborative teamwork

The essence of the construction industry, like that of many other industries, is teamwork, with diverse teams collaborating with one another to successfully complete a project. Completing projects on time is extremely critical as large sums of money and time are invested in these projects, thus it is not feasible to have the project’s progress delayed due to teams’ inability to communicate with one another. Most of the time, not all employees might be present on-site when something requires clarification. This can often delay decision-making and can lag projects. 

With AR, teams can collaborate and communicate with each other efficiently and solve issues no matter where they are or what time it is. Workers can share their onsite video feed from the AR glasses with their supervisors and receive real-time instructions, allowing them to complete tasks faster and with minimum reworks. AR also enables multiple teams to collaborate and work on a single project with all relevant information immediately accessible right in front of them. Thanks to AR, the decision-making process is streamlined, changes can be applied faster, teams can work with precision and downtime is decreased. 

  • Reduced risk and safety

Perhaps the most essential part of having AR in the industry is its potential to improve safety. AR can make safety training more interactive and immersive. AR’s computer-generated 3D models can be employed in the preplanning of safety measures to predetermine the problems that could develop during construction and formulate a pre construction safety plan. In this way, AR can support the construction employees in their daily operations, guide them through tasks, prevent onsite accidents and offer hands-free access to any technical component. AR may build an overlay of the construction site to oversee the dangers marked during the pre planning stage and can be avoided. AR can perhaps build QR codes or tags to display and can be anything from 3D objects to text content. This can be used to convey danger information, where the workers can scan the QR code to provide a comprehensive data sheet on the relevant hazard information. AR simulations of heavy machinery can be used to test operational expertise prior to actual construction. 

  • Data visualization

AR technology aids in combining all the digital information about the project, such as the position, style and the details of modifications ranging from architectural elements to the placement of ducts and pipes to visualization.  The engineers working on the project can use this information to visualize the facts in real-life using an AR device or smartphone, allowing them to keep track of the project’s progress and get a clear idea that the project is working in order.  

  • Training 

The construction industry uses a great deal of heavy machinery and equipment. Hours of training are required for any new employee or trainee entering the sector. Remember that employee training is an expensive investment. In the event of a problem, the teams will have to wait for the expert to arrive and resolve the situation. 

However, with AR, employees can get direct instructions from their supervisors and act accordingly. Smart and intuitive instructions can reduce downtime and prevent training costs. AR can provide real-time access to the tools and equipment that they require to train anywhere at any time, which can significantly improve the overall quality of their training experience. 

Also, consider the dangers associated with operating heavy machinery and other dangerous equipment that can endanger the lives of workers. With AR, it is always possible to ensure worker safety without putting their lives at risk. At the most basic level, the employees can use their smartphones to train to work out and move the equipment without putting their lives in danger.

Concluding thoughts 

AR has made its way into practically all industries and domains, and it’s safe to assume that in the near future it will soon be a must-have technology for any organization looking to optimize their operations and streamline their processes. There is no shadow of a doubt that AR has the potential to be of enormous use to the construction industry in a variety of ways, from conceptual design through operations and maintenance, technology has the ability to move the construction industry forward, unlocking its full potential.

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