The benefits of virtual reality in construction
Problems incurred in the construction industry are normally related to the inability of designers, architects and engineers to truly experience a project before it is built. These issues can be costly as work may have to be stopped whilst solutions are sought. Contractors in the construction industry are familiar with using an actual 3D model, rather than AV technology, to visualise how close a finalised project will be to the initial plans when complete, which is a less accurate method.
Reducing construction errors with VR and AR (augmented reality)
VR can be extremely effective in allowing the main contractor to communicate design changes to their client, but it’s also a vital tool in understanding the value of engineering exercises on the end project, as well as evaluating alternative solutions. Design changes can happen virtually, even before a contractor has visited the site, dramatically reducing costs.
VR technology can be particularly advantageous in the pre-construction or refurbishment stage, whilst AR comes into its own once the project is underway. You can use a smartphone or tablet to upload technical documents or 3D models and overlay and merge them onto real-life images of the fit out, at various stages of completion, to offer a unique insight. These solutions can be extremely powerful tools, as images showcase the result of a fit-out far better than words, and in some cases can even logically predict outcomes of any changes.
Investing in the future of VR
The majority of construction companies, in particular, have already been using VR technology to improve safety and demonstrate to customers and investors what a building will look like once it’s complete. As VR in construction is receiving a £1 million (GBP) investment from the UK government, there are opportunities in the future to integrate the technology even more.
The AWE (Augmented Worker System) consortium, based in the UK, has received investment with the goal to improve access to VR and AR technology in the UK construction sector. It will also invest in the development of VR and AR technology, looking at ways to improve some key areas, including co-design, digital job guidance and progress monitoring, as well as safety and asset management.