- Global engineering and construction giant AECOM has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with tech company HTC to develop virtual reality (VR) technology for the AEC industry, Business Insider reported.
- The agreement marks a step forward for HTC's Vive, a VR platform designed for room-scale interactions. The company's VIVE FOCUS, a standalone VR headset, will be the first product tested under the MOU at a new VR laboratory in Taiwan.
- Developers at the lab will produce other VR technologies and capabilities geared toward aiding the AEC sector in planning, building and maintaining structures. AECOM and HTC plan to highlight and promote the adoption of such developments in a portal designed for AEC professionals.
Virtual and augmented reality (AR) technology has emerged as an increasingly popular conduit for approaching today's construction projects.
Already, hospital projects and multi-family residential developments have turned to the tech for greater efficiency and to save potential high-dollar costs on reworking a design. Still, VR is primarily kept to construction management operations or a project design phase due to a host of safety concerns, such as a lack of full peripheral vision.
While Microsoft is still developing solutions to that issue with its HoloLens product, companies like Gilbane and AECOM are testing out the technology. In one trial, a Gilbane manager was able to use the HoloLens system to detect a design flaw, saving the company what could have been a $5,000 error.
Earlier this year, Skanska UK announced that it, too, would be testing an AR hardhat as part of an early adopter program. The hardhats are outfitted with a transparent visor that can display 3-D renderings and receive instructions from remote managers.
The proliferation of 3-D modeling software and capabilities like BIM, huge computing power and the development of AR/VR headsets like the Microsoft HoloLens and Daqri Smart Helmet are all coalescing to bring the technology to the mainstream, Stacy Scopano, senior construction industry strategy manager at Autodesk, told Constructoin Dive last year. A recent report from Transparency Market Research put growth in the VR/AR market expanding at a CAGR of 92.5% between 2016 and 2024, increasing to $547,207.68 million over the period. Construction, in large part, is expected to drive that trend, according to the report.