Why Augmented Reality Will Alter The Way You See The Construction Industry

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Nobody in the construction industry would argue against the premise that making things simpler, more efficient, and more cost-effective while improving quality is better.

Which is why you can’t argue against the disruptive innovation of augmented reality.

Construction is an industry that, by its nature, requires workers who are considered both skilled and unskilled to perform the work. Whether it’s relatively small-scale commercial developments,or major undertakings, such as building a multi-billion dollar oil refinery, construction requires an army of workers of various skills and abilities backed by engineers, architects, construction management software, and more.

So what if you had a tool that could be used across the spectrum of workers in the construction industry? Well, that tool is here and it’s augmented reality.

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Augmented reality is a game-changer in this industry. Here’s one reason why:  You’ll no longer need to use references or guide workers with blueprints, or plans drawn on paper, or written instructions, or two-dimensional drawings.

With augmented reality, everyone on the job can access the data that’s critical to their work simply with off-the-shelf hardware that’s readily available in a smartphone or tablet. The information is on-demand in a digital form that can have a staggering positive impact on the industry.

A 3D engineering model can be overlaid directly onto the work site, both to scale and to location. Picture a hologram that shows precisely where to set and connect beams, or where subfloor anchor points are located, or where pipes are sitting in the walls. And all that information is easily accessible with the touch of a finger on a smartphone or tablet.

I predict that, within 10 years, augmented reality will be everywhere in the construction industry, whether it’s smaller-scale or large-scale. The great thing is that you don’t have to wait for advancements in headsets — that may or may not ever come — to take advantage of augmented reality’s applications because of it’s current availability and compatibility with technology in smartphones or tablets.

For example, we can deliver to clients in three months a custom-built application that their workers can use right out of the box. The results we’ve seen are more than impressive after 50 projects with our teaming partner, Newport News Shipbuilding, the country’s largest shipbuilder and a $4 billion company with 20,000 employees.

Using augmented reality applications on just tablets, specific project performance results at Newport News Shipbuilding included a 90 percent improvement in inspection times — all while maintaining or improving quality — a 50 percent reduction in training times, and a 35 percent reduction in manufacturing time. What’s not to like about that?

While augmented reality can make companies better and more profitable, the benefits to workers are equally impressive. It makes them more valuable to companies because they are able to work more efficiently and more safely by using augmented reality on company tablets and smartphones. The systems are intuitive and easy to use even for older or less-skilled workers.

I like to compare the introduction of augmented reality to today’s industry to the advent of the steam engine in the 1800s. It absolutely revolutionized industry. Not only could goods be produced more quickly and efficiently, but those same goods were carried to markets much more rapidly.

Augmented reality can be used across industries in construction, manufacturing, aerospace, engineering, energy, and many other sectors. From marketing, to worker training, to inspections, to construction, it’s fully capable of taking tools companies have already invested in — smartphones and tablets, for example — and workers they have trained and greatly enhancing their capabilities.

You can’t argue against that.

Looking for Construction Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Construction Management software solutions.

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About the Author

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Dexter Lilley

Dexter Lilley is the Executive Vice President and COO of Index AR Solutions based in Williamsburg, Va. Formerly leader of Component Manufacturing and Steel Fabrication at Newport News Shipyard, Lilley is helping lead Index AR Solutions, a 2015 tech startup, as it empowers companies and workers to improve efficiencies and enhance productivity even in challenging construction environments through the use of augmented reality. Index AR Solutions was recently featured on the Fox Business News “Risk & Reward” show and can be found at www.indexarsolutions.com.

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[…] devices could so fundamentally redefine the way projects work that some industry observers think they’ll be ubiquitous within ten years. Suppose a given builder is tasked with routing the wiring in an office building or welding rebar […]

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