Imagine arriving to your job site and being guided to your outstanding tasks, with instructions on how to complete them before your very eyes. This is the dream that augmented reality technology is making, well, a reality.
Whether it be 3D printed houses, drones completing site inspections or even hard hats that monitor worker hydration and fatigue, technology is changing the construction industry in new and exciting ways. Augmented reality technology, or the merging of the ‘real world’ with computer-generated images, may sound like science fiction, but it’s very much science fact.
For the construction industry, augmented reality technology has the potential to get the job done safer, faster and cheaper than ever before. Below we dive into what augmented technology looks like today, and what the technology can offer the industry into the future.
Augmented reality technology provides a composite view of the world to the wearer (combining the real-world and computer-generated images). Think of a pair of glasses that displays brick-laying instructions while you work.
In the construction industry, headsets like the Microsoft HoloLens are already being used to see project mockups while on site. Displaying work instructions, safety information, fatigue levels, project timeline notifications and material checklists is all possible with augmented reality technology, while you work.
The DAQRI Smart Helmet is one of the most popular examples of emerging augmented reality technology in the construction industry. Its sophisticated data visualisation abilities can show workers live information on thermal temperatures of pipes, pressure readings and guided work instructions. The Smart Helmet can also send and receive calls to technicians for assistance.
While augmented reality technology has the potential to revolutionise the way all kinds of trades complete their work, it also presents new challenges for project managers and workers. For example, using a headset to access work instructions can be a potentially dangerous distraction, especially in a busy working environment. Relying on virtual instructions rather than professional experience can also present challenges. Much like contractors should have a policy on mobile phone and tablet use on site, they need to enforce rules on augmented reality devices.
Construction workers shouldn’t rely on augmented reality technology as a substitute for their skills and experience. After all, a job site with a poor internet connection will come to a standstill if workers need instructions delivered to their WiFi headsets.
The construction industry is investing heavily in augmented reality technology, and technologies like the DAQRI Smart Helmet are becoming more sophisticated and capable of assisting a range of tasks. It will be up to project managers to mitigate existing safety concerns as job sites introduce the technology.
Daily use of the technology may be a way off for your regular construction projects, however as augmented reality technologies evolve, we can expect jobs to become safer, faster and more informed by live data.By Jason Hook
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