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Augmented Reality in Construction (2 of 3): Bridging On-Site and Off-Site Efficiency


Augmented Reality in Construction

This article has been created from the Construction Disrupted podcast - Episode 9 - Can AR be a True Reality? Featuring Caner Dolas and Jayan Jevanesan, Co-Founders of Gamma AR.



The construction industry has long grappled with communication challenges, resulting in errors and inefficiencies that could have been prevented. Augmented Reality (AR) is emerging as a transformative technology in construction, offering the unique capability to visualise building projects on-site like never before. This article, inspired by conversations with Gamma AR co-founders Caner Dolas and Jayan Jevanesan explores the potential of AR in construction, how it can break barriers as well as its off-site advantages.


Visualizing the Future: AR in Construction

AR is set to revolutionise construction by providing a clear and intuitive way to convey project information to on-site workers. Unlike other technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR) or scanning applications, AR allows users to preview and understand the construction project as it appears on-site. By directly overlaying 3D Building Information Modelling (BIM) onto the construction site, AR eliminates the need for imagination and helps prevent errors before construction begins.


The Challenge of Information Flow

The construction industry heavily relies on 2D plans and traditional methods for project information. This approach often leads to miscommunication and misunderstandings, particularly in complex projects with mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) systems. AR bridges the information flow gap, making communication more efficient and reducing errors.


On-Site Adoption: Breaking the Barrier

Less than 20% of project managers currently use apps to access project data and collaborate on-site. To break this barrier, Caner believes that “as an industry, we need to invest massively in educating our people as widely as possible” and generate awareness about the benefits of different types of technology. Jayan added that “there is a generational change that is automatically happening.” With younger, tech-savvy professionals entering the industry, demand for AR and similar technologies will increase.


The Role of Education

Education plays a crucial role in promoting the adoption of AR and other construction technologies. By investing in training and making information readily available, the industry can empower its workforce to leverage technology effectively. New generations entering the construction field already have experience with BIM and digital tools, further facilitating the transition to AR.


Hardware and Software: A Balancing Act

The high cost of AR headsets and smart glasses may deter smaller construction companies from investing in this technology. However, for solutions like Gamma AR accessibility is key, “this is why we focus on tablets and phones (to deliver AR experiences) because everyone has them” explains Jayan. These devices are more cost-effective, readily available, and provide sufficient performance for on-site use.


Getting Started with AR

To start using AR technology on a construction site, individuals should ensure they have newer smartphones or tablets for optimal performance. For precision and tracking, devices with LIDAR sensors, such as those from Apple, are recommended. Setting up processes on-site is simplified with AR, Caner explains that “you don’t need to prepare anything onsite, you just need to take your model and align one edge in the model to one edge onsite” and this is typically straightforward, there is no need for extensive preparations or additional hardware like QR codes.


Off-Site Benefits of AR

AR's advantages extend beyond on-site use. Off-site, AR facilitates the communication between construction site managers and designers. Issues and changes can be pinpointed precisely on the digital model, improving clarity and reducing ambiguity. This streamlined communication accelerates decision-making, ultimately leading to more efficient project management.


Summary

Augmented Reality is poised to become a cornerstone of the construction industry, transforming the way information flows between the office and the construction site. By simplifying communication, reducing errors, and enhancing collaboration, AR addresses long-standing challenges in construction. With accessible technology and a growing awareness of its benefits, AR is set to break down barriers and usher in a new era of efficiency in construction projects, both on-site and off-site.

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