In recent posts we have presented the on-going digitalization of industrial organizations, as part of the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0), which enables digital control of physical processes. The merits of Industry 4.0 have been validated in various use cases in sectors like manufacturing, oil & gas and energy. However, these benefits extend to industrial infrastructures as well, such as smart cities and the smart buildings that they comprise. In particular, the design, deployment and management of physical processes in these buildings are increasingly empowered by the IT applications, which collect and process digital data. This opens new horizons in the digitalization of relevant construction and real estate processes, in areas such as design, training, energy optimization and more.
In this context, we are recently witnessing a proliferation of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) deployments in construction projects. A wide array of AR and VR applications leverage 3D representations of constructions in order to facilitate training, support and simulations. Such 3D representations are increasingly made available in the scope of BIMs (Building Information Models), which provide digital models of non-trivial buildings and enable merging of real and virtual 3D views.
With a BIM model and its associated digital datasets at hand, various VR and AR applications can be developed, including:
The previous list of AR/VR applications in construction projects is probably not exhaustive, given that new visualization, interaction and measurement related ideas are always emerging and materializing. Nevertheless, it provides a representative collection of the most commonly used applications. As evident from the description of the applications, it’s very interesting that they support multiple stakeholders including:
The use of AR/VR tools in construction projects is nowadays a reality, as far as functionalities like walk throughs, training and remote support are concerned. In coming years, we expect a proliferation of VR/AR deployments in construction, as a result of the reduction of the cost of AR/VR devices (e.g.,headset), but also due to the development of an increased number of applications. Most of the latter will be accessible through state of the art mobile devices, which will increase their availability and will reduce the total cost of ownership of the solutions. Hence, AR/VR will become available to the masses of architects and designers, rather than being a privilege of a small technology literate elite.
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