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Time for construction to immerse itself in disruptive innovations

Of all the disruptive innovations expected to shake up the construction industry over the coming years, immersive technologies have the potential to make the biggest impact.

Indeed, these types of technologies are already capable of bringing real value to construction projects.

But while fully immersive technologies are readily available, realising their benefits will require industry to understand how they can be best utilised to achieve client needs.

Virtual, mixed and augmented reality capabilities are about more than simply buying new kit.

Age of collaboration

A major benefit of immersive technology is improved collaboration. It enables people to come together to solve problems, regardless of whether they work within the same organisation or across the supply chain.

Importantly, using the technology aids decision-making, which has huge potential to accelerate design and construction processes.

You don’t need to be a software expert to use and understand the models created in an immersive environment, so this allows more people to be involved in a project’s development process.

“Using the technology aids decision-making, which has huge potential to accelerate design and construction processes”

Viewing a mixed-reality model, for example, could help construction managers to better understand the impact of their decision-making on how buildable or safe a structure will be.

Fundamentally, immersive technologies will transform the way the construction industry communicates with its clients, supply chain and stakeholders.

On-board already

There are already signs that clients won’t need convincing of the benefits of these new technologies.

Earlier this week, Aecom announced a new collaboration with Trimble on the world’s first use of Microsoft HoloLens mixed-reality technology for engineering and construction.

We have deployed HoloLens devices in Denver, Hong Kong and London and are applying the technology to real-world projects.

The rise of immersive technologies also presents an opportunity to entice new people and different skills into construction.

“There are already signs that clients won’t need convincing of the benefits of these new technologies”

As an industry, we will need to make ourselves attractive to those entering digital professions. The challenge will be for industry to establish and demonstrate what a future career in construction could look like.

The technology industry is investing billions in immersive technologies and their future in other sectors is already bright.

The technology is there, customers want it and technology providers are eager to help, but immersive technologies are still yet to make a breakthrough in construction.

There can be no doubt that immersive technologies have the potential to make a huge impact on industry. How significant that impact will be hinges on the industry’s desire to embrace change and develop new ways of working.

David Glennon is director of digital project delivery in Europe, Middle-East, India and Africa at Aecom

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