How VR is changing the construction industry

Ellena Tangi

October 20, 2017

Virtual reality has been in the midst for a long time, with the “Telesphere Mask” first patented in the 1960’s, but it’s now more readily available and more useful to commercial operations, especially in the construction industry.  VR is a fascinating way to look around virtual space as if you are actually there, which is why it is fast becoming one of the most ground-breaking technologies used in the construction and engineering industry.

At present, the industry is encouraged by the use of BIM (Building Information Modelling), which requires builders to create a 3D model of prospective projects before construction begins.  Whilst this is great, VR technology would allow developers to actually interact with the design, spot inaccuracies, and mistakes, and make amendments, something that other methods do not offer. Virtual reality technology allows builders and engineers to render the structure as well as work in it, as they would in the real world.

In this video, Daniel and Claire from Balfour Beatty explain how virtual reality is helping to shape the future of construction and engineering for the company.

Architecture and engineering professionals heavily use BIM models as a replication of what the structure should look like on completion, therefore it is easy to compare the model to the physical work, an effective method for safeguarding consistency.  Industry professionals are utilising drones and laser scanners to gather information about a project site, which is then used when creating the VR model. These models are easier, quicker and simpler to remodel, which is helpful due to the number of changes that happen to a project on a day to day basis.

Virtual reality also offers a collaborative experience, for both contractors and clients, allowing them to both actively participate in the initial design. This ultimately reduces the chances of misunderstandings, errors and unwelcomed revelations.

The technology can also be used in professional training and is already being used in the medical profession. Stimulation training comes with a multitude of benefits including cost and safety. This type of training is particularly useful for industry graduates, as it’s a safe way to prepare them for work on a real site.

Although the cost of initially implementing VR is expensive, the benefits are plentiful and industry experts predict it will be the norm in the future.

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