Last Updated on April 18, 2023 by Admin
Virtual reality (VR) is a new technology used by many industries. It has become the latest trend in construction because it offers much more than just virtual reality. It can help with design, modeling, and other processes in the construction industry. Read more to need to know about virtual reality in the construction industry.
For years, construction industry observers have debated the advantages of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). The benefits of training, marketing, and planning are evident, but they can also increase productivity and worker safety by offering insights that traditional technology cannot.
Virtual reality (VR) refers to the production of a simulated world. It has a long history in the construction industry, mainly showcasing how a project would look once done.
Virtual Reality (VR) is a computer-simulated environment that allows you to interact with the environment in a realistic and/or tactile way. Virtual reality is a new technology gaining popularity in the construction business as more young people choose construction management careers. It is no secret that technology transforms how we live and do things in ways never possible before.
Table of Contents
What is Virtual reality in construction?
Virtual Reality (VR) technology could be used in conjunction with three-dimensional (3D) modeling to improve communication in vocational training, education, and professional practice. Models for the construction process were created using 3D modeling and virtual reality techniques.
The 3D models generated to aid rehabilitation design prove valuable for monitoring structural anomalies and assisting decisions based on visual analyses of various solutions.
The virtual reality model developed to aid in the management of lighting systems in buildings allows for the visible and interactive transfer of information about the physical behavior of the elements as a function of time. Interactive models that teach about construction were also created.
The foundation of 4D (3D + time) models is the integration of geometric representations of a building with scheduling data relating to construction planning information.
As a result, 4D models in this industry combine 3D models with project timelines, and VR technology has been used to make 4D models more realistic, allowing interaction with the environment depicting the construction site.
4D models are being used to improve production, analysis, design management, and construction information in various phases and regions of construction projects.
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How is Virtual reality used in construction?
People working in all aspects of the construction process can benefit from virtual reality. Following are the significant advantages of using virtual reality in construction.
Heavy Reduction in site visits
Managers and supervisors must keep a continual watch on the project, and not just the principal construction staff must be present at a construction site.
Visiting the location can assist other essential team members such as architects, designers, and even shareholders or company representatives. Anyone can inspect the project using virtual reality without traveling to its physical site.
When an issue arises during the construction process, it can be resolved considerably faster. Instead of stopping work for hours or even days while waiting for the appropriate management to get on-site, the necessary manager can put on a VR headset, analyze the situation, and propose a solution.
By limiting the number of visits, they must make to the site, and they can achieve maximum efficiency, allowing them to work on many projects at once.
This is especially important when larger organizations operate worldwide; expert advice and recommendations can be provided without needing experts to travel to the physical site. As a result, both time and money can be saved on the project.
Fixing problems before they occur
Virtual inspections of a project enable the detection and correction of several mistakes before construction begins.
A problem uncovered during construction is significantly more difficult and costly to rectify, and it can cause significant delays. Virtual models provide improved accuracy and a high level of detail, which is a considerable benefit.
VR can also help you save money on items you don’t need. A construction worker or management can get a clearer idea of what has to be done by virtual reality.
Because the exact volumes and feasibility of reuse can be determined ahead of time, fewer unnecessary materials are ordered. Profits are increased as waste is reduced.
Customer experience gets improved.
Building owners and shareholders are no longer reliant on diagrams and drawings to visualize the outcome.
This offers them a better grasp of the project and allows them to explain exactly what they want before construction begins, reducing the possibility of changes. In turn, the contractor is capable of managing and meeting the client’s expectations.
Virtual reality also brings clients closer to the construction site. They may virtually visit the job site and see how well everything progresses.
This is especially beneficial for consumers who travel or do not live in the building’s immediate vicinity. They can completely forget about themselves, thanks to virtual reality.
Betterment in safety and training
Construction companies can use virtual reality to train their employees. Operators of machinery can begin training in a controlled environment before the job site is even ready, whether they’ve never used the machine before or need a refresher.
Operators learn to use their tools in a 3D environment created by training simulators. Trainees also receive experience making quick judgments and dealing with unforeseen issues in real-time, with little risk of physical harm.
This increases operators’ proficiency before operating the apparatus in real life, resulting in lower safety risks and minor equipment damage due to overuse.
Another advantage of VR is that it improves safety. More minor accidents and a safer environment result from better planning.
Furthermore, virtual reality allows some gear to be operated remotely, reducing risk by reducing the number of personnel on-site. Remote access to the VR environment will enable operators to control their machines while remaining protected from the elements.
Collaboration gets upgraded
A new construction or renovation project may involve many people responsible for different project areas, from design to completion.
BIM systems, which store all project information centrally and provide models that can be worked on by any team member, alleviate the challenges that inevitably occur from various specialists working with different information. Regardless of how the data is represented, changes are reflected in everyone’s models.
Thanks to the cloud, working with BIM has never been easier, allowing users to access the central database anywhere.
Multiple team members can work with a 3D model simultaneously since changes, notes, and queries are reflected in real-time for everyone working on the project. This helps streamline communication and ensures that everyone is on the same page.
With the advent of virtual reality, the already powerful combination of cloud computing and BIM has become even more powerful. BIM transforms the comprehensive model into an immersive 3D environment that anyone working on a project can enter. Teams may stroll around and assess the project together as if they were truly there.
Good data is critical to this procedure. Laser scans and point cloud data sets enable the creation of highly detailed, hyper-accurate 3d models that can then be visually explored. If high-quality scans of the project site can be obtained, no one other than the builders will need to visit the site.
This means that a construction company may hire the best employees, saving time and money, regardless of their location.
Managers, designers, and others can now work on multiple projects simultaneously. This dramatic boost in efficiency heralds a sea change in the building industry.
Improvisation in accessibility and quality
Virtual reality’s existing utilization of 3D models is being taken to the next level. Building information modeling systems can already build hyper-accurate digital representations of a construction project, including details other than the physical dimensions. All construction team members may view them remotely.
Before work begins, you may enter the area, stroll through it, and inspect every detail. Construction businesses can give fully immersive virtual models of a project at any stage if they have adequate data and the right modeling system. The building industry is on the verge of adopting virtual reality.
What are the characteristics of Virtual reality?
To feel more realistic for users, the following characteristics show a higher sense of Virtual reality in construction:
The virtual world appears to be authentic.
This is the most crucial feature of Virtual Reality, as it depicts a three-dimensional virtual environment created by a computer. This world accurately represents an accurate building site. The following specifications make up this crucial feature: More realistic, responsive, interactive, fast, and bug-free.
VR interacts with the user and gives them the impression that they are physically present on the project site operating the equipment. The VR device controls the human senses, and the user experience is entirely reliant on it.
Receiving user feedback makes the world more lifelike. In addition, user feedback is critical for future improvement in the world.
The virtual environment is becoming more dynamic and faster, giving the impression of being present on the project site.
Essential devices & Types of Virtual Reality
These devices are used for a specific purpose in VR.
Headset for Virtual Reality
A high-end VR headset has a display unit and earphones for audio simulation, and it receives input from gaming consoles like the Xbox or PlayStation.
Device for Computing
To run virtual content in a 3D environment, computational power is required. PlayStation and SmartStaions can be used to meet these criteria.
Input and output device for virtual reality
VR input devices allow users to engage with virtual worlds, but VR output devices persuade them to be in the real world.
According to the experience they provide, the following three types of Virtual Reality technologies are available:
Fully Immersive Virtual Reality
Users who use Fully Immersive believe they are in a different, more realistic world. Users can employ VR gear such as a VR headset, motion detector sensors, and feedback devices to get this kind of experience.
Virtual reality that isn’t fully immersive
This sort of VR merely simulates a subset of the user’s senses affected by actions in the outside world.
VR with a semi-immersive experience
Between fully immersive and non-immersive VR, this sort of VR exists. Users work in the outside world utilizing a 2D image delivered from another planet in this type.
Benefits of Virtual Reality in Construction
Construction is more of a series of stages than a single procedure that a project goes through. The VR technique is notable in that it is not confined to a single step or stage, and it can be utilized to solve the problems of a variety of specialists in this sector.
Lessen the amount of time spent on revisions.
Designers and modelers have more flexibility when the model is developed for a VR experience with more interactive choices. They can test updates without reworking essential areas of a model. They don’t have to rely on on-site visits or reference materials because they can utilize a realistic simulation.
Make the content reusable.
Models built within VR software have a considerably broader range of applications and can be used much beyond the initial stages of a project’s design. Construction teams, engineers, and other project participants can reuse the software with a few adjustments.
Make training more secure.
Virtual reality safety training poses no risk or hazard to the user’s health as long as the simulation allows your staff to interact with the equipment, items, and other job characteristics.
They can receive the same muscle, and visual memory or at least witness events play out when they cannot fully perform the same movements with their hands. Virtual reality building instruction may be done anywhere, and no special equipment or gear is required.
Increase team member involvement.
At the very least, virtual encounters are entertaining and fascinating to most individuals. When there’s work to be done, the aspect of interest and immersion remains, and workers welcome the chance to work with such cutting-edge technology, especially if it helps them complete daily duties.
Increase team cohesion.
One of the best references and equipment you can present to experts in this sector is a digital simulation. They can not only learn the ins and outs of a site’s structure, but they can also preview the jobs they’ll be doing and practice teamwork before ever going on site.
Cost and material savings
Construction teams can estimate how many materials they will need before buying them if the interactive features are incorporated (e.g., simulation of concrete work, wiring, etc.). Furthermore, the simulation can assist them in identifying potential structural flaws before they become real-world obstacles.
Make sure your speeches are well-received.
Immersive presentation is impressive in and of itself, providing a far more profound grasp of your project than a 3D render, paper model, or even an animated video could. Allowing potential stakeholders to experience your vision in virtual reality is a fantastic approach to put on a show.
Limitations of Virtual Reality in Construction
Virtual reality is technology, despite its many applications and growing popularity. And history has shown that every technology has flaws.
The price of VR devices.
The initial costs are exceedingly high, as they are with any new technology. Even average VR gadgets have a steep price tag.
VR software size.
The software for virtual reality is substantially more significant than the hardware for virtual reality. Compared to other devices, VR software takes up a lot of space and requires a lot of computer power.
VR gadgets still use joysticks and in-built game/software mechanisms to simulate movement rather than the user’s actual movement. This results in a condition known as locomotor sickness.
The weight of virtual reality gadgets.
Virtual reality gadgets are pretty hefty, and prolonged use might result in headaches and neck strain. The cost of the device rises when the weight is reduced.
A lack of awareness of one’s surroundings.
You can’t see around you once you put on a VR device. When using a VR device at home, this is a significant disadvantage, and the absence of eyesight might result in costly mishaps.
The Risk of Addiction
VR disconnects individuals from reality, which is never a good thing. Addiction to VR is possible with higher graphics and immersive and compelling content.
Most VR graphics are subpar compared to other platforms, and they appear to be at least a decade old.
Eye Damage Possibilities and Vergence Conflict
Virtual reality is simply a screen placed a few centimeters before your eyes. This has a significant impact on vision, and eye injury is a substantial source of concern.
Inability to comprehend
VR is a novel concept that quickly becomes a non-profitable investment option, which is never good.
Applications of Virtual Reality in Construction
Virtual reality was first used in construction to demonstrate blueprints for a building. The virtual design allowed the builder to understand better what’s being built without actually constructing it.
It was also used for training and education during reconstruction. Virtual reality is now being used in many other areas, such as architectural design, marketing, and gaming.
There are many examples of companies employing virtual reality technology to better their operations, and the construction sector is no exception.
App for BIM Visualization
It includes views of the outside, inner structure, floor plan, electromechanical components, and a walkthrough on the ground of a substantial multi-story building.
Improvements to the Downtown Area
VR was chosen to revitalize and transform the downtown area by providing a platform that depicted about 3 million square feet of improvements and restorations in a 360-degree view.
A large hotel structures
VR produced a natural setting for the hotel and resort, complete with many buildings and amenities. A massive hotel building is featured in VR and a simulation of the hotel setting. To enhance the experience, a walkthrough and limited interactive choices were added.
The hospital project developed a BIM-based VR experience that substantially impacted their project work.
The future of VR in Construction
The integration of VR technology in BIM to visualize design and BIM information in the field is one obvious use; however, this function is still in its early stages of development.
The construction industry had already come to rely on BIM (which incorporates a variety of software solutions) before VR became popular as a business solution; thus, VR apps appear to be a natural extension of this trend.
In the coming years, the impact of virtual reality on architecture and related industries should become more precise.
The building industry has remained traditional in terms of how work is completed. Things are changing, though, with the implementation of virtual reality. People will either despise it or grow to appreciate it; those resistant to change will make their lives more difficult by ignoring it.
Now that the business is expanding, millennials are flocking to it, while the older generation is starting to think about retiring. Virtual reality is still in its infancy; in the future years, better construction technology will be produced, and the defects and challenges that software developers face will become obsolete, improving the software’s efficiency.
Contributor: Ms. Bhagyashri Wani has done MTech in Construction Management and has three years of Industrial Construction Experience.