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Mixed Reality in Construction

Mixed Reality (MR) is a technological innovation that has blurred the line between imagination and reality. Mixed Reality technology blends real world objects with digital content, interactively, and in real time. It helps users efficiently interpret physical and digital information, and the spatial relations between them. Mixed reality can include augmented reality and other mixed configurations. When it comes to construction, mixed reality provides architects, designers, engineers, PMs, and service providers an unmatched capability of creating a virtual copy of what they are planning to create. They can travel around the building and find out how it is going to look once it is built! Sounds magical, isn’t it! Needless to say, such a virtual tour leads to early identification of the loopholes in design and leads to huge savings in terms of cost and time. Microsoft HoloLens is a wearable, self-contained holographic computer, which is making mixed reality a popular concept in the construction sector.

A Growing Market

The global mixed reality industry is expected to hit $14848 million by 2023, registering a CAGR of 71.3% from 2018 to 2024. Construction will be a major part of this growth story. That’s not a surprising statistics given the large number of benefits this amazing technology offers. With increasing adoption of this technology, it will soon become a standardized tool for building projects. 

Building Information Modeling (BIM) is becoming an important tool for digital construction. In the lifecycle of a construction project, BIM brings in many benefits. It allows more intelligent use of resources, optimization of workflows and enables all interested parties to assess the same information at the same time through the interoperability between different technological platforms. It leads to better outcomes through more effective communication and collaboration. BIM enables stakeholders to coordinate better and take more informed decisions. It is not surprising to note that the Building Information Modeling market size is projected to grow from USD 4.9 billion in 2019 to USD 8.9 billion by 2024, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.7%.

These benefits when coupled with the magic of mixed reality give a more accurate view of the building structure, leading to early identification of errors and  creation of more robust designs.

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Mixed Reality in Construction – The Advantages

Mixed Reality and holographic technology bring the models out of the screen and help users to engage and interact with design data more intuitively. 

Better project planning

The value of mixed reality in construction sets in right from the planning and permitting stages. Mixed Reality allows teams to conduct walkthroughs of the entire project before it is executed, closely examining the details and components of the structure. This foresight can prevent schedule delays, reduce cost overruns, and identify any mistakes before they surface.

Comprehensive on-job inspection

The ability to combine all digital information and documentation with one’s physical view is a game changer in augmented reality. Information including the locations of pipes, walls, outlets, switches, and ventilation can be accessed directly on the site in layers that can be easily toggled on and off. Information retrieval allows field workers to effectively monitor a project against its building plan and ensure its successful completion. 

Higher safety levels

Walkthroughs using mixed reality help in early detection of possible safety concerns, thus not only helping in saving cost, time and resources, but also reducing the probability of the workers getting affected by construction hazards.

Augmented Reality is a boon in underground construction. With easy identification of underground cables, pipes etc. it enables the workers to avoid hazards while excavating. 

Enhanced collaboration among teams

Construction projects involves multiple teams and collaboration must be there between these teams for successful completion of projects, well within the set schedule and budget.

However, all the workers involved in a project are not always present on a job site. Any errors that arise must wait for all the parties involved to assemble and review blueprints and make any changes. Virtual Reality allows users to take notes and share video views of any errors or design issues in question and send the information to any remote teams in real time. On-site and remote team members are able to consult with each other and work with the information needed, greatly lowering the time and costs needed to make a decision among teams.

The construction job sites are changing. Technology has become an integral part of construction. Moving forward from 3D models, drones, now the sector is achieving new levels of accuracy and efficiency with mixed reality. By combining digital and physical views, augmented reality is helping construction teams drive more efficiency, accuracy, and overall confidence in their projects. Walkthroughs facilitated by mixed reality headsets provide an extraordinary experience for the architects, designers, engineers, project managers and most importantly for clients. As the technology continues to mature, mixed reality will become an invaluable tool for building projects. The experience just can’t be ignored!

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