In recent years, there has been an explosion of software-aided realities in the marketplace. Virtual Reality (VR) is an immersive experience taking place in an entirely virtual experience. Augmented Reality (AR) places virtual information that interacts with the real-world to provide context-sensitive information to the user via their phones, tablets, and glasses. Mixed Reality (MR) is a semi-immersive interactive experience consisting of placing virtual reality elements into the real-world environment.

With the growing popularity and continued development of these technologies, it’s not hard to envision the potential benefits these technologies will hold for the construction industry.

Virtual Reality

Most large-scale construction projects have already adopted Building Information Modeling (BIM) as a standard. It’s only a matter of time before engineers and architects offer all clients a virtual reality 3D walk-through to clients for design reviews or to use VR to identify potential issues throughout the design and construction process as a further enhancement to existing BIM offerings.

Mixed Reality

We can also use the same BIM models in conjunction with Mixed Reality technology to demonstrate design and status information to project stakeholders. Using MR, one can see a full-scale module or completed project before even breaking ground at the site location. MR systems can also be used to overlay future construction over the actual construction progress to allow for constructability planning and coordination between trades.

Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality systems are a perfect fit for construction field applications.  Next, we’ll dive deeper into 2 key benefits that impact both the worker and the project owner for a better performing project, including safety and productivity improvements.

Intelliwave employee testing out the Microsoft HoloLens and Mixed Reality

Safety Considerations

Construction sites are filled with many potential safety risks. With the introduction of technology on a job site, many believe this will increase the risks of an incident. However, if the technology is implemented correctly, it is proven to decrease safety incidents. For example, using an AR system to locate materials in laydown yards by guiding the worker directly to the required material allows workers to spend less time climbing over material, thus reducing the risk of trips, slips, and falls.

The primary safety benefit of using AR in the field keeps the worker’s line of sight at the horizon instead of looking down at their mobile device.  This “heads-up” use of the system keeps workers aware of the surroundings, ultimately helping them avoid dangerous collisions with machinery and other moving objects on the construction site.

Enhancing Worker Productivity

For workers to reach peak productivity on the job site, It is all about having the right information at the right time. Augmented Reality systems can display pertinent information relevant to a specific worker automatically. Just by looking at a part, an augmented reality system can display quality specifications or installation instructions while keeping both hands free to work. For example, torque specifications for a flange bolt-up can be displayed side-by-side with the real output from a smart Bluetooth enabled torque wrench. A quality check is performed automatically by recording the actual torque with the specification and stored electronically. The entire torque and quality control process could be completed automatically without manual entry all while keeping the workers on the tools.

SiteSense Embraces Augmented Reality

With the recent broad market applications for Virtual, Augmented and Mixed Reality, industries can easily see the benefits. Intelliwave is currently implementing augmented reality technology in our SiteSense® Material Management and Tracking product to increase safety, increase productivity, and improve quality of construction projects. The question isn’t if these technologies will play a role in construction only when will they become the standard way of doing work on all project sites.

Contact Intelliwave today to learn more about our offerings for your construction project.