The State of XR in Construction (AEC) for 2022

Rebekah Carter

The rising opportunities for XR in architecture, engineering, and construction

Insights Vertical Market
The State of XR in Construction (AEC) for 2022

The architecture, engineering, and construction landscape has quickly become one of the fastest adopters of XR technology. Even before extended reality started to emerge as a mainstream technology, AEC brands were investing in early tools for product ideation, and development.

After all, the ability to successfully visualise and plan products on a three-dimensional scale is crucial to construction brands. With an XR environment, companies in the AEC space can more easily work together on virtual blueprints and digital twins, without having to waste crucial resources. What’s more, AR and MR solutions allow for better collaboration in an otherwise dangerous environment.

According to some studies, by 2018, around 94% of construction companies were already familiar with AR/VR solutions. Here’s an insight into how extended reality innovations are transforming the future of construction companies.

The Potential for XR in Construction (AEC)

For decades, construction companies have used various digital tools to help visualise and plan projects in advance. Software solutions allow architects, contractors, and owners to determine what a project will look like long before ground is broken. However, these tools have their limitations. The rise of extended reality has given AEC leaders a chance to work with projects like never before.

With MR, AR, and VR solutions, companies in the AEC space can improve employee safety, boost collaboration in the workplace, and create comprehensive environments for planning and development. Some of the most significant use cases for XR in construction include:

  • Project planning: Virtual reality environments provide businesses with the freedom to develop unique digital twins of projects in a digital environment, without wasting resources or time. Staff members can work together with colleagues from all over the world, and even share plans with investors before a project begins. AR and MR solutions even allow firms to overlay sections of 3D models onto visual sites.
  • Collaboration: Design collaboration and review no longer needs to take place in a physical office. People from anywhere in the world can view the same 3D models to conduct design reviews. This can also be an excellent way to allow specialists to jump into a project and provide feedback before builders begin work. What’s more, MR and AR tools allow specialists to provide feedback to construction professionals as they work, using real-time video streams and annotations.
  • Jobsite coordination and guidance: Companies are beginning to use VR environments during pre-construction stages to improve the coordination of materials, equipment and people in various environments. The right technology can also allow for real-time installation guidance, delivered in the form of holographic images through MR and AR smart glasses. In one case, when a crew used a HoloLens headset during construction, they saved around 40% of the average labour time.
  • Safety training: The AEC environment can be a dangerous place for employees without the right training. Fortunately, VR solutions can allow workers to train on best practices before they begin a complex assembly on-site. Ana pp was even developed and released by the American Society of Safety Professionals to give construction workers insight into how to maintain fall safety strategies on the job.
  • Attracting talent: Construction companies in the AEC sector are even using XR technology as a way of attracting new talent. Access to modern solutions for visualisation and safer workplace practices attract a wider range of employees to a skills-short environment. Presented with the right XR tools, companies can even more rapidly onboard and train the employees they bring into the site.

Trends Driving XR for Construction (AEC)

AEC companies have been investing in XR solutions for some time, long before many other industries started to explore the benefits of this technology. However, the landscape is constantly evolving, with new opportunities emerging for innovators all the time.

Some of the major trends we’re seeing influence the implementation of XR in AEC landscapes include:

  • AR Smart glasses: Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality smart glasses are becoming more commonplace in the construction landscape. These headsets allow multiple people to collaborate on a project, even if only one individual is present on the site. The right solutions can also allow professionals to build their projects according to the guidance provided by holographic images, reducing the risk of mistakes.
  • Remote operation: When combined with artificial intelligence and IoT solutions, XR technology also has the potential to allow employees to operate machinery from a distance. This is a huge benefit for health and safety purposes. It can allow operators to avoid operating heavy machinery directly, and instead use headsets and internet connections to work on a project from any environment in real-time.
  • 5G Connectivity: The rise of 5G solutions is extremely beneficial for those in the construction industry, as it allows for the use of mobile headsets and devices in any space. With 5G connections built into headsets and technology, business users will be able to collaborate with colleagues and access high-fidelity images of project plans more easily.
  • Merging AI and XR: The connection between XR and Artificial Intelligence tools has been growing consistently in recent years. For those in the AEC environment, an AI solution built into an XR solution may make it easier to plan new strategies on how to build a project, or get real-time predictive insights into how to run a site more effectively.
  • Metaverse and NFT environments: Most people are familiar with the virtual home tours offered by real-estate companies today. The construction landscape can take advantage of similar technology to provide insights into upcoming projects for investors in the metaverse. There may even be an opportunity to build “NFTs” of certain projects for ownership in the digital world in the years to come.

Exploring the Future of XR in Construction (AEC)

As an ever-evolving, mobile, and innovative landscape, the construction industry represents an excellent opportunity for extended reality innovation. Already, many of the leading construction firms around the world have begun to implement their own versions of VR, AR, and MR technology, to unlock new opportunities for workers.

The right technology not only boosts collaboration and efficiency, but can also reduce the risks associated with the construction environment, and attract the attention of new investors.

 


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