AKULAR x Autodesk – The Power of Augmented Reality (AR) in Construction

Augmented reality (AR) has proven its value across multiple industries and has demonstrated that it can be leveraged beyond the realms of gaming and entertainment. As such, the AR/VR market is expected to see a 77% CAGR from 2019-2023. In retail, brands are adopting augmented reality to enrich the online shopping experience, allowing shoppers to see what an item (e.g., a piece of furniture or appliance) might look like in their own environment. In healthcare, AR is being used to visualize organs or simulate procedures. Surgeons can use AR to project 3D representations of a patient’s anatomy to improve accuracy and outcomes. AR has also been making waves in the construction industry. When leveraged properly, augmented reality can help you win more projects, collaborate with team members, and even improve safety.

AKULAR brings 3D models into the user’s physical environment. This mobile app enables users to conduct walkthroughs of 3D models in the real world using just a phone or tablet. All you need to do is download the app, upload 3D a model, and see it come to life using your device. AKULAR offers a great solution for firms that want to show stakeholders life-sized 3D models of a building. And if you need it to fit into a room or space, AKULAR allows you to shrink the model to fit a confined space

Taking advantage of augmented reality in construction requires a solid understanding of the technology’s capabilities and use cases. And this is exactly what we’ll discuss in this article. Below, you’ll learn about the role of AR in construction today and in the future. 

What is AR?

Augmented reality or AR refers to technologies and experiences that bring computer-generated objects into the user’s physical environment. AR is typically powered by mobile applications, headsets, and other smart devices that superimpose digital objects into the real world. 

How is AR used in construction?

In construction, AR can be used in everything from project planning to communications. Consider the following use cases:

Project presentation. AR can layer certain details and elements onto a building plan so stakeholders can get a better understanding of the project. AR can also be used to showcase 3D models and even provide tours, giving clients a solid idea of what a building would look like before it’s built. Want to show the client what a new installation would look like on-site? AR can also bring that vision to life. 

Progress capture. AR can be used to track and document how projects are progressing. There are several solutions in the market that let construction pros capture project progress. These apps use your device’s augmented reality features to identify where you are in the floorplan and automatically take pictures at every capture point. Doing so ensures that team members always capture at the exact same location over time, thus improving progress capture efficiency and accuracy. 

Better collaboration. AR can streamline collaboration in remote environments by letting teams share 3D images and videos with team members who aren’t on site. Thanks to augmented reality, stakeholders can view images or videos in greater detail so they can identify errors or issues without having to be in the actual building location. 

Enhanced safety. AR technology can also improve safety on the jobsite. Some AR devices (like glasses or mobile devices) can scan tags or labels placed in specific areas or objects. These labels can then bring up text or even 3D models to communicate safety or hazard information.

Construction training. When it comes to teaching people on how to use complex equipment or heavy machinery, AR can assist educators through life-like demos, so workers can see equipment in action before heading to the site. Firms can also use augmented reality to demonstrate hazardous materials or situations without exposing team members to the real thing. 

The Future of AR in Construction: Mixed Reality

In many ways, the future of AR in construction is already here. The technologies that enable the above-mentioned use cases already exist, and several firms are starting to test and refine various augmented reality initiatives. 

The most forward-thinking players are taking things to the next level by implementing mixed reality (MR). MR combines augmented reality with virtual reality (VR) by enabling users to be immersed in virtual content while still being aware of their physical environment. MR combines the best of both worlds, so you can see and interact with digital elements without getting lost in a completely virtual environment. 

MR enables stakeholders to collaborate better. People in the same room can tour a virtual model or site while still interacting with one another in the real world. On the jobsite, MR can assist workers with installations and repairs by letting them view instructions then overlaying that information onto the things that they’re working on. 

The future of augmented reality in construction is going to be bright, but it’s also important to remember that we’re still in its early days. In a survey and trend analysis of AR and VR adoption, researchers found that “the AEC industry is far behind other industries such as healthcare and retail in adopting AR/VR technologies.”

That said, the researchers are optimistic and point out that the industry is starting to shift towards greater adoption. The results of the study indicate that  AR and VR technology use in the AEC industry will see “strong growth” in the next 5 to 10 years. 

Ultimately, a wider adoption of AR will be driven by two things: the willingness of construction professionals to go through digital transformation and the maturity of AR tech itself.

Fortunately, we can already see these happening today. The events of 2020 forced construction firms to work remotely and adopt digital solutions, so the industry is primed for disruption. And in the world of AR, companies like AKULAR is continuously finding ways to improve. Headsets are getting lighter and sturdier. The AKULAR App is becoming faster and more intuitive. AR, VR, and MR tech can now be integrated with construction software through Autodesk Construction Cloud.

Original article written by Grace Ellis, Editor in Chief, Autodesk Construction Cloud Blog.

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