Technology has transformed the way we work across industries from media and medicine, to design and architecture. From apps on mobile devices to laser scanning, drone photography, and wearables, few construction sites have escaped the influence of technology, and the companies that are embracing it are reaping substantial rewards.
One new technology that is changing the industry by addressing and solving old and new problems is Virtual Reality (VR). In construction, think of VR as the next level of 3D modeling. Like 3D modeling, VR consists of creating a detailed virtual model of a project. The difference is that VR is immersive technology. VR places the user “inside” the virtual environment so that the user can experience full immersion and engagement within a virtual space.
VR is being used in a number of areas, from high-end residential to commercial construction. Here are three problems that face our industry and how VR technology is being used to solve them.
Scale Jobs Quickly
Every project is unique and because of this, construction has never been easily scaled. VR has made it possible to share information across teams and locations, and get new teams up to speed quickly. Creating a traditional 3D model is complex, requires time, space and materials, and while helpful in orienting a project, contain inaccuracies and lack detail by design.
3D modeling software has changed the process by making it possible to create detailed, accurate models to scale, quickly, and inexpensively. It also allows easy sharing of models between teams. VR takes this to another level by allowing teams to immerse themselves into a structure as if it was physically there and interact with the environment as though they were taking a walkthrough.
VR allows teams on opposite sides of the country to walk through a site together, in real-time, giving them the ability to improve processes, create consistency, and scale.
Improve Collaboration and Streamline Process
VR gives your team the ability to see a job site without the need to be physically present. This makes collaboration easy to facilitate in real-time within a shared environment. Team members can literally point out details, ask and answer questions and make important decisions in real-time from anywhere in the world.
This is especially beneficial when building in remote areas where teams may be collaborating across vast distances.
Improve Customer Experience
If you are not familiar with a process, visualizing the end result can be difficult. This lack of transparency can be frustrating for owners during the construction process. Before VR, stakeholders had to trust the construction company, basing important decisions on drawings and the occasional site visit.
Today, instead of paper drawings and 3D models, clients can “walk into” a virtual model and see, engage, and interact with a finished environment. 3D models in VR allow customers to watch the project unfold and make sure everything is on track and as planned. When issues arise, they can be addressed immediately, reducing change orders and increasing project timelines.
VR is also being used as a marketing tool for high-end homes and commercial properties by showing potential clients what it will look and feel like to be in a space, including layout, lighting, interior design, and even views.
Virtual reality is here, and it is changing our industry. Early adopters will reap the benefits and find new and exciting uses for this incredible technology that will grow their business for years into the future. By improving scalability, facilitating collaboration and upgrading the customer experience, VR is already helping companies to tackle problems and create a more profitable and efficient construction experience.