Technology is disrupting the construction industry, with new survey methodologies and building techniques as well as innovations around BIM data and 3D models making the construction site safer, more efficient and even remotely accessible.
Last year marked a breakthrough for technology in building sites. Here’s a look at some of the breakthroughs that you may see on a construction site in the near future:
A Smart Badge that provides a real time view of the construction site
Imagine sitting a few hundred kilometres away from the construction site, yet being able to obtain detailed visibility into workforce activity and generate zone-based hazard alerts for workers. The introduction of the compact and wearable B3 Workforce Safety Badge makes this possible.
Designed by Redpoint Positioning, the developer of GPS-like indoor-positioning solutions, this small and lightweight badge instantly alerts the wearer with a loud alarm and visible strobe, providing hazard-based warnings to those on site. Workers and contractors can also use its emergency call button and messaging display for effective communications.
The badge is rechargeable, using a wall-mountable multi-charger, and supports real-time tracking with 20-centimetre accuracy. Launched at Autodesk University 2015, it has embedded Bluetooth which facilitates connection to smart phones and tablets for Building Information Modeling (BIM), with the ability to accurately locate people from early job site operations to post-construction and building-owner services.
Using Augmented and Virtual Reality to visualise the final product before constructing it
Computer and TV screens aren’t just for watching movies and playing video games anymore. Architecture, engineering and construction specialists and owners are now using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) to push designs from these screens and integrate them into real-world environments, thus blurring the line between what's real and what's computer-generated by enhancing what we see, hear, feel and smell.
With the advent of AR and VR applications, designers and contractors can visualise a building model in real time and fully understand the feel and experience of the building before construction starts. In addition, an owner can now manage a facility or asset in the real world environment by simply taking the as-built condition model into these digital environments.
AR application SmartReality, created by JBknowledge, allows Android and iOS users to transform 2D construction plans into 3D models on mobile and wearable devices before building it onsite. This app recognizes the design or file with the camera on the mobile device and its screen provides a glimpse of the project upon completion.
The importance of this technology should not be understated. For years designers, contractors and owners have wanted to utilise 3D information in a real world context. Not only will the new technology ensure better project delivery and operations, but will also reduce errors and ensure a higher level of safety across the industry.
Stingray, a gaming and design visualisation technology offered by Autodesk, provides a real-time live environment where everything designed is being rendered instantly, bringing building information to life.
By allowing a live, interactive connection to designs, it is now changing the way buildings are constructed at present and in the future. It has always been a challenge to communicate designs and plans to stakeholders who are less adept technical language, but the VR capabilities in Stingray will bridge this gap by empowering stakeholders with the ability to see, hence letting them immerse in the designer’s vision.
Additionally, Stingray technology enables the user to easily push the design directly into proprietary virtual reality headsets such as the popular HTC Vive.
Smart Helmets that provide workers on site with in-depth information
Hard hats are important on a construction site, but they aren’t exactly high-tech. LA-based augmented reality company DAQRI has created Smart Helmet, the world’s first wearable human machine interface which seamlessly connects workers to their environment by providing them with unprecedented levels of information for the most precise display and tracking possible.
Designed in DAQRI’s 4D studio, this world class sensor package has an Intel RealSense R200 camera, which enhances industrial mapping by providing color camera overlays and allowing 360 degree situational awareness.
It features a 4D “Heads Up” photonic see-through display system that makes the helmet suitable for indoor and outdoor use, and a thermal dissipator that alerts users about faulty conditions (such as overheating or low battery power) in real time. In order to increase efficiency and improve the safety of workers on site, DAQRI is working with Autodesk to take BIM and geo-located asset information into these construction projects and beyond.
Drones which capture relevant data on site for the business
Flying robots, or what we commonly refer to as drones, are now being used across multiple industries, including construction sites, where they can capture information into actionable and relevant intelligence for businesses.
US-based company 3D Robotics (3DR) recently collaborated with Autodesk to develop the Site Scan platform. 3DR’s UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) is equipped with one of the largest sensors in the industry – the Sony R10C APS-C 20mp. Combined with completely autonomous flight and direct integration with Autodesk ReCap 360, it results in incredibly realistic 3D models and point clouds. This easy, cost-effective solution to process data collected by UAV technology provides invaluable insights on projects and improve overall efficiency across teams.
Technology plays the key role in advancements and innovations for the construction industry. From workflow analytics to employee safety and effective communications, it has helped in the growth and development of the construction industry.