Augmented Reality for Training, Tracking and More
In our last blog post, we discussed a few aspects of virtual and augmented reality’s role in project management. In this post, we’ll explore the potential effects of augmented reality on enhanced training, tracking and transitioning efforts throughout the design, construction and operations of buildings.
First, a quick refresher: Virtual reality technology allows people to experience an imagined setting without existing physical conditions. While with augmented reality technology, people see projected information layered on top of existing physical conditions.
On the Job, But Not
In terms of training, augmented reality helps co-op students, interns and apprentices “visit” job sites virtually without having the added time and expense of travel. Virtual interactions teach critical safety concepts without fear of harm, and enable practicing different techniques and alternative approaches, while going beyond the passive nature of video training or lectures from a book.
Manufacturers of equipment use augmented reality to walk tradespeople through expert assembly and installation of systems before they ever get on a site, and later assist operations and maintenance personnel on how to service those systems. In these ways, AR replaces the need for two-dimensional printed materials or for downloaded static instructions and manuals, which is a real time saver and error reducer to personnel in the field.
Keeping Track of All That Stuff
Augmented reality glasses or goggles help project managers and contractors quickly and accurately track the status and verify the correctness of equipment and materials arriving onto the jobsite or storage place. It’s like x-ray vision, but even smarter. An AR view (scan) of equipment, like an air-handling unit, for instance, or of materials, like a pallet of ceiling tiles, confirms that the delivery matches the contracted and approved specifications and quantities.
When there are multiple parts with similar visible characteristics, it is easy for workers to be confused and to put them in the wrong places. To prevent that, AR enables the wearer to see where each item should be installed according to building design and work breakdown plans. This synthesized and validated information is presented into a dynamic visualization and provided instantly whether in the office or out in the field, and without the need to hunt for the latest printed drawings or specification documents. Furthermore, there’s little need to worry about whether those paper installation and care instructions delivered with the equipment, since it would be embedded electronically within or stored by the manufacturer in their database.
If that’s not enough, AR tools can quickly identify how much is installed, the condition it’s in, and how it’s functioning. Now, counting and recording progress for invoicing on work completed is made much easier and people are paid quicker.
From Build to Use
Most people are eager to occupy their spaces and use their systems soon after construction. Yet it often takes considerable energies to start things up, get them tested by the manufacturer and approved by the building inspector before ready for use. Similar to the training benefits mentioned previously, AR enables the installers to both follow and record how they configured equipment and installed materials so that those required to inspect can literally see the history and review the work without tearing apart the final product. This speeds up review and helps vendors gain trust and confidence.
The materials stay with the building for decades, but the people change. So, when the project is completed, the operations folks can use those previously-mentioned AR views into the repository of history and knowledge to keeping things performing at their best, while connecting with project players during the warranty and long-term maintenance phases of a building’s lifetime.
We like to think of VR, and especially AR, as powerful interfaces into the growing virtual model and database of the history of thousands and millions of parts and practices coming together to make a real estate improvement or development project reality. The underlying model is sometimes referred to as a virtual information model or digital twin: Stay tuned for that as the subject of our next blog post.
Are you wondering how VR or AR (or their cousin, mixed reality) could help your next real estate development or improvement project? We’d love to discuss the possibilities and challenges. For more information on the services we offer clients, browse some of our other articles — or give us a call at 888.357.7342.