AR at Construction Site: 3 Practical Use-Cases Every Stakeholder May Find Interesting
Despite being a critical industry that shapes the world we live in, the construction industry is no stranger to challenges. From project delays and cost overruns to errors in design and construction, safety risks, and communication issues, it faces many obstacles that impede progress and hinder success.
But you are probably not deterred by these challenges. On the contrary, they are opportunities to innovate, collaborate, and create new solutions that will push the construction industry forward. And that is where augmented reality (AR) technology comes in.
AR has the potential to address many of the challenges faced in the construction industry by providing a powerful tool for enhancing design and visualization, improving on-site construction, providing safety, and facilitating better collaboration and communication among stakeholders. By leveraging the capabilities of AR technology, work can be done more efficiently, accurately, and collaboratively while minimizing errors, delays, and safety risks.
Let’s explore how AR technology can address these challenges in more detail. By the end of this article, I hope to inspire you, as industry professionals, to embrace the potential of it and join us in pursuing a better, more efficient, and safer construction industry.
Augmented Reality in a Nutshell
Augmented reality overlays digital information into the real world, allowing users to interact with digital and physical objects simultaneously. It uses cameras, sensors, and computer algorithms to recognize real-world objects and track their real-time movements. This information is then used to generate and display digital content that appears in the real-world environment. Moreover, it’s very accessible. In many cases, the smartphone you already have is all the hardware you need.
This technology has a wide range of applications in the construction industry, from enhancing design and visualization to improving on-site construction and safety. So let’s dive into it to see where this technology may be helpful.
How to Improve Construction Safety with Augmented Reality?
One of the significant benefits of AR technology in construction is the ability to provide remote safety checks. Construction sites can be dangerous, and it’s essential to ensure that all safety regulations are followed to prevent accidents and injuries. With augmented reality, inspectors can perform safety checks remotely, which saves time and money.
If your safety inspector is responsible for more than one construction site and it takes time to travel from one place to another to check everything and give the green light to continue work, imagine how much time and money is wasted on this.
Not sure if the excavation is secured correctly? What if the inspector can look remotely, not only via video call but with the software overlaying plans on the construction site and doing measurements to check if everything was correctly placed?
But the possibility of taking construction measurements and checking the work with plans is not the only way to help provide a safe workplace on construction sites. The safety inspector can also have AR checklists highlighting what needs to be checked. Then, while following the list point by point, the safety inspector can add pics with measurements done by the AR app and notes and send them to the stakeholders.
Remote but supported with AR, safety checks may save time, minimize the risk of delay, and provide a safer working environment. As a result, augmented reality apps have considerable potential to improve construction safety, but that’s not the only use case worth considering when you’re thinking about implementing augmented reality at construction sites.
How to Support Effective Collaboration?
Effective collaboration among all stakeholders is crucial for successful project delivery in the construction industry. AR technology facilitates collaboration by providing a shared understanding of the construction project and allowing all stakeholders to visualize and communicate in real time.
With AR, all stakeholders can view virtual construction models, including design plans, 3D models, and construction progress, anywhere and anytime. This means all stakeholders, including architects, engineers, contractors, and clients, can work together seamlessly, regardless of location.
It may sound quite normal – they can see all of that also on their computer screen. But imagine if you have collaboration tools that allow you to see the virtual 3D model of the project right in front of you – on your desk. And you can manipulate it, see every detail, change the view, and see if the changes you’ve made look good using a hands-free 360 view. You can even walk around to see the building from every perspective.
AR technology can enable real-time annotations and notes on 3D models, allowing stakeholders to communicate design changes and construction progress more effectively. This helps avoid misunderstandings and ensures all stakeholders work towards the same goal.
Field workers can access virtual building plans, 3D models, and other real-time project information with an augmented reality headset or mobile device. They can use AR to overlay design plans onto the actual construction site to compare the two and ensure that everything is built to specification. This can help reduce errors and inaccuracies in construction, saving time and money.
You have strategic elements that must be placed accurately to ensure the building’s safety and strength, and the mistake can be expensive to repair. How can you help contractors to do it faster and with minimum risk of error? You can implement an AR visualization showing them how it needs to be done in real-time, providing workers with guidance and checking their work accuracy.
In conclusion, AR technology can enhance collaboration on construction sites by providing a shared understanding of the project, enabling real-time communication and collaboration among stakeholders, and reducing errors and inaccuracies in construction. Sounds interesting?
How Can Augmented Reality Change Communication?
But there’s no effective collaboration and safety without good communication. AR technology can enhance communication on construction sites by providing various communication tools.
One example of AR-enabled communication is using AR glasses equipped with a communicator. With AR glasses, workers can communicate with each other hands-free, allowing them to work more efficiently while staying connected. For instance, workers can use AR-enabled communication to share project information and review designs and progress reports without additional devices or interruptions.
AR glasses can also provide construction workers with real-time information on their surroundings. For example, workers can use AR glasses to access contextual information, such as blueprints, safety protocols, and materials lists, without leaving the job site or stopping working. This can help to reduce errors and delays and improve overall productivity.
Furthermore, augmented reality technology can facilitate communication between remote stakeholders, such as architects, engineers, and clients. With AR, remote stakeholders can view the construction site in real-time and provide instant feedback and guidance to on-site workers. This can be crucial when the specialists must take care of specific tasks, and we want to avoid delays. AR4Vision is one of the apps that are already successfully used to support such tasks in the field.
Communication supported with augmented reality can also play a significant role if people need to be evacuated due to an emergency or should be informed about some risks and dangers they should be aware of. You can instantly send the message to everyone with the confidence that they will receive and see it without delay. It can be a game-changer in some situations, helping save lives and the health of every person on site. Of course, it can also be a message: “Where’s your helmet?!” sent to one person directly 😉
AR Hardware for Construction Industry
All those use cases seem great at first sight, but you may be wondering how safety at the construction site corresponds with using AR hardware. I mentioned that AR is accessible via smartphones, but they may be hard to use in some environments and don’t provide a hands-free experience. So is there any hardware that supports augmented reality and simultaneously ensures safety?
Fortunately, the answer is “yes!”. There are augmented reality headsets designed for construction and other industrial settings. These glasses are equipped with features that ensure safety and compliance with industry regulations.
One example of such glasses is the HoloLens 2 from Microsoft. These AR glasses are designed with safety in mind and have been certified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the United States. In addition, they feature several safety mechanisms, such as thermal management to prevent overheating and a secure fit to prevent the glasses from falling off during use.
Other augmented reality glasses designed for construction include the RealWear HMT-1 and the Vuzix M400. These glasses are also designed with safety in mind and comply with industry standards.
In addition to safety features, these AR glasses offer various functions tailored explicitly for construction and industrial use. These include the ability to display real-time data such as blueprints and schematics, as well as the ability to access remote expert assistance through AR-enabled communication.
Overall, AR glasses designed for construction can help improve safety and compliance while providing workers access to real-time data and communication tools to enhance productivity and collaboration.
Let’s Sum Up Augmented Reality Benefits
Augmented reality technology is changing many industries. Let’s take a look at its most essential benefits.
- Improved project management – Augmented reality technology facilitates effective stakeholder collaboration by providing real-time insights from construction sites. This leads to improved decision-making, better resource allocation, and more efficient project timelines.
- Increased safety on construction sites – Augmented reality can provide fast safety checks and guidance, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries. Workers can use AR technology to identify hazards, locate safety equipment, and receive real-time safety alerts.
- Customized hardware for construction – The augmented reality industry has developed AR glasses tailored to the construction industry’s needs. These glasses provide a hands-free experience, allowing workers to access information and instructions without stopping work or using their hands. This leads to improved efficiency and productivity on the job site.
- Improved design visualization – Augmented reality technology can help architects and engineers visualize their designs in 3D and real-world contexts. This allows them to identify potential issues and make design changes before construction begins, saving time and money.
- Increased accuracy in construction – Augmented reality can provide accurate measurements and data visualization, reducing the risk of errors in construction. For example, AR technology can ensure that pipes and wires are installed correctly.
- Better communication with clients – Augmented reality can be used to show clients what a finished project will look like in their environment. This can help to clarify expectations and ensure that the final product meets the client’s needs.
It can reduce construction costs, improve safety and minimize the risk of delays. Engineering-grade augmented reality is an exciting and helpful technology that can change everyday work. Construction organizations can benefit from its interactivity, accessibility and capabilities.
If you are looking for experienced augmented reality developers, we’re here for you. Leave us a short message about your challenges and schedule a consultation to discuss how immersive technologies, like augmented reality, can help you solve them.
New technologies enthusiast. She bought her own VR headset after using one for a few minutes. Loves playing multiplayer games with friends and reading books.