How Construction and Architecture Firms Are Using Augmented Reality for Competitive Advantage
Imagine showing up to a completely empty plot of land and then putting on a specialized pair of goggles and seeing a life-sized building appear right before your eyes. This is augmented reality (AR) and it’s being used right now by architecture and building firms to show clients what proposed buildings and structures will look like and helping with the construction of those structures.
In fact, according to JBKnowledge’s 2020 Construction Technology Report, 34% of construction companies say using AR gives them a strategic advantage over competitors who are not using the technology.
What is AR?
This is not to be confused with virtual reality (VR), which completely immerses a person in a computer generated world that is separate from reality.
App-dependent AR relies on an app or some other delivery system that people have to download to their device in order to use it.
On the other hand, web-based AR is delivered using only a link and a web browser, meaning anyone who wants to use it need not download anything to their device.
Other forms of AR include light projection and AR that uses stationary screens, but these are not common in the architecture or construction industry.
AR combined with BIM
How AR benefits planners, architects and builders
There are many benefits to using the technology.
Beyond that, designers can use AR to show interested parties the various layers to a building, showing the framework, the electrical corridors, the heating and A/C system or any of the various other systems one at a time.
For example, a construction worker could put on a pair of AR goggles and scan a marker on a wall and see the electrical conduits behind that wall (again, providing that there has been a 3D rendering made of it). Project maintenance Much like with the construction of a project, AR can help with maintenance of a building using the same principles. A worker could don a pair of AR goggles and scan a marker to show them what is behind a wall so they can make accurate repairs with minimal invasive damage to the structure.
Real-time on site job revision
In fact, workers can even view AR as they’re building a component to help them build it right, if necessary.
Safety and inspection
Spotting underground dangers
Uses of AR in construction & architecture
Facilitates emotional connections
Or, if a home already exists, an agent can show prospective buyers what it will look like with furniture in it without having to go through the trouble of staging a house.
Even with commercial buildings, AR can give clients the true scale of the structure by having them stand virtually inside of it. That’s not something you can get by looking at a piece of paper.
Provides a sneak peek at new yards
Gives architectural and building firms a marketing advantage
Makes clients feel more involved
By using AR, architectural and construction firms can make clients feel more involved in the planning and building process instead of feeling like an outsider who needs everything interpreted for them. Rather than just listening to the planner, clients can be involved in the discussion as informed participants and know exactly what is going on.
How planners and builders are using AR right now
These are some of the ways it’s being used right now:
AR smart sketches
AR Capable helmets and glasses
Augmented reality in construction requires specialized equipment to see it. While you can use the phone in your pocket, it’s much more convenient to have glasses with AR capability and safety equipment that incorporates it into the design.
There are hard hats with built in AR glasses and many firms are using Microsoft’s HoloLens glasses to give workers the ability to visualize projects and 3D models in augmented reality as an immersive and large-scale 3D environment. Teams using AR enabled equipment can compare work-in-progress with the original design and keep the work and the head office in sync with each other with an all-digital workflow instead of relying on paper.
Virtual measuring apps
Software that shows builders life-sized instructions
Software that overlays the BIM
With its ability to show people what is not actually there, augmented reality for architecture and construction is quickly becoming a must-have tool for design and construction firms that want to increase efficiency and keep their clients in the loop easier. It’s an obvious positioning advantage for companies that use it already and soon will be an indispensable tool in the industry.