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David Cartwright

Technology - 5 min read

New Mixed-Reality Wearable Device Enables Workers to View Holographic Information On-Site

Jason Hook

Head of Sales and Marketing

Oct 2, 2019 10:14:17 AM

For many years, construction companies have been looking for ways to reduce the gap between architectural drawings and actual plans (on the ground). Converting physical blueprints on paper -and 2D models on a screen- into 3D reality can be very complicated. These conversions are what make productivity and scalability challenging for builders.

Wearable technologies are revolutionising the way builders can turn architectural plans into 3D structures. Wearable technologies, in general, aren’t entirely new. Workers are already using smart watches and hats to keep track of their location, heart rates, and other vitals. These devices have improved safety and productivity among workers in recent years. 

However, wearable technology has now taken an additional step in an innovative direction. By combining augmented reality with VR, new devices have been developed that can provide a full holographic view of the final structure. But how does this technology work, and how can it revolutionise your construction projects?


How the technology works 

Mixed reality wearable devices utilise many different technologies to achieve their functions. In the case of holographic imaging, the technology is called Engineering Building Mixed Reality (EBMR), and it can be integrated into a worker’s helmet while on site. 

EBMR converts architectural plans into realistic 3D models. Workers can wear their hats, proceed to the actual site, and view a holographic image right where they’re standing. Better yet, they can view structural details and begin to coordinate workflows even before a single brick is laid. 

Mixed reality wearables also adjust positioning as a worker navigates the site and moves to new positions within the structure. There’s no need for everyone to have seen the actual blueprints, as tasks can be assigned according to one’s view of the final building. 

The process begins by having all variables captured in 3D. From cables to structural elements and material choices, all relevant components are designed and enhanced using a combination of AR and VR. This data is then used to prepare holograms that give workers realistic views of the overall structure.       


Innovative features 

This mixed reality technology is promising for both small and large-scale builders. The following features fuel the possibility for EBMR technology to create an immersive working experience:


Holographic projections

While holograms have been around in recent years, adapting this technology into wearable construction equipment was the primary challenge for engineers. This conversion is now possible by using Hololens devices from Microsoft. 

These lenses are mounted on workers’ helmets and can be used to project holographic images in real-time. The Hololens is used on a variety of wearable technologies to make 3D imaging possible.   


Real-time positioning

In addition to the imaging aspect, the device also needs to have real-time positioning. This maintains relativity within the 3D model and allows a worker’s view to adjust as they move around. Global Navigation Systems are used to facilitate this positioning requirement. 


Motion sensors

For orientation purposes, a motion tracker is also used within the EBMR technology. This tracker makes movement and location precise in relation to the virtual image.


Continuous power supply

Finally, wearable technologies would be ineffective if they were unable to keep a charge. Battery-powered supply is a critical feature for all mixed-reality wearables.  

How mixed-reality technology will revolutionise construction projects 

You may be wondering how valuable mixed-reality can be for your business. This technology is already being used in commercial projects to save costs while reducing project timelines. You can benefit from mixed-reality wearables in the following ways:


Improve workplace safety 

Wearables were initially developed to keep workers safe. Mixed-reality wearables have advanced safety standards even more by reducing the uncertainty involved in designing structures. 

By workers viewing the structure even before work begins, they can better keep track of risks, identify any loose ends, and remain safer while working. 


Plan and visualise projects faster 

Mixed wearables address the challenge of converting physical blueprints into actionable 3D models. Builders can now plan projects faster, visualise scale and form, and improve project quality.


Tackle more complex projects 

In addition to delivering higher-quality projects, builders can also take on more complex work that may involve multiple variables. Mixed-reality wearables can be used on hats and smartwatches to allow workers an opportunity to map out the entire structure in advance. In this way, builders are able to up their scale and integrate advanced techniques into construction projects.  

Take your first step to a digital construction site and reap the benefits. Get a free trial of Cubit, a natural estimating software designed to improve the accuracy of your construction estimates and save you time.


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