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Augmented reality could make construction easier, quicker, and cheaper

New visualization technology enables workers to "see" buildings before they’re built

When you’re building an enormous, multi-story structure, every mistake or delay means additional costs. But new augmented reality systems beginning to roll out on construction sites might help workers detect building problems in the digital realm first, saving big money in the real world.

Construction and engineering companies like Gilbane, AECOM, Gensler, and the China State Construction Engineering Corporation are testing the potential of Microsoft’s HoloLens to improve the precision and efficiency of their work, according to an article in the MIT Technology Review. The HoloLens, a self-contained computer headset able to overlay holographic images on top of the user’s visual field, is a huge step forward in the adoption of augmented reality.

In theory, a construction worker can walk around a building site wearing the HoloLens and see the structure’s digital plans layered on top of the existing physical space. An intuitive interface lets the user switch between different scales and views of the design, including architectural renderings, structural designs, and mechanical systems.

A senior manager at Gilbane told MIT Technology Review that the prototype enabled him to catch an error in the length of a set of steel frames they were about to order, saving the company roughly $5,000.

While the technology is still in development, it holds great promise for providing an unprecedented simulation of a structure before it’s built—mistakes and all.

Source: MIT Technology Review