Augmented Reality: A look at its AEC marketing applications

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Tocci Building Companies, which won the 2015 Best Construction Blog competition, has posted some insights into the evolution and possible applications of Augmented Reality (AR) technology for the construction industry.

First Tocci clarifies the distinctions between AR and Virtual Reality.

A term that always seems to go hand in hand with VR is augmented reality (AR). The misconception is that they’re interchangeable terms with one another. While they are both new uses of technology VR submerges you into another word while AR uses VR to supplement your surroundings.

Tocci suggests AR may have application through job-site safety glasses with AR lenses. These could be useful in safety situations (emergency evacuation) or for instructions, especially for new workers.

I think some of the most powerful applications for AR will be in client presentations, though I imagine there will be challenges in implementing the concept in RFP “bake off” final interviews — you would need to ensure the equipment is in good order, the selection panel has access to the necessary viewing tools/headsets, and of course that the special arrangements are acceptable under the competition interview rules. However, consider the possibilities as outlined below:

Augmented Reality can also enhance the materials presented to the client. It can be difficult to image how the final built product will look within the current environment. Models can be developed to pull up on an iPad or tablet when viewing the site in real time. Before construction, owners could virtually walk through the site as if they were walking through the building. The screen (through use of a camera) would show the existing real time conditions over laid with the objects in the room starting with where the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) work would go, followed by framing, drywall, and finishes. This brings the project to life before it’s even built.

Tocci asks a few questions about the limits of current technology.

While all of this sounds great, the technology still needs to be more fully explored. The first obstacle for AR glasses is making sure the lenses are up to the safety standards of today’s traditional safety glasses. Next we need to make 100% sure the information is accurate. If the visual display shows that there is a pipe underground, the display should show exactly where it’s located so unnecessary damage does not occur when completing a task. Despite some concerns like these, we’re excited to see what the future holds and how it will enhance the AEC industry, especially in the field.

Presumably, AR will be something that can be implemented for marketing for early adaptors. However, it isn’t pie-in-the-sky impossible, as we see in the evolution of electric cars and self-driving technology. Stuff that may have seen to be science-fiction wild just a few years ago now has become realistically possible within the next few years.

Have you applied AR in your marketing? Please let me know. You can reach me by email at buckshon@constructionmarketingideas.com or leave a comment here.

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