Virtual reality startup IrisVR announced last week that it raised $8 million in Series A funding to expand its products for design and construction professionals, according to TechCrunch.
Based in New York, the company aims to give designers the ability to transform 3-D plans into a virtual reality experience. Its products are compatible with VR headset devices like Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift, Gear VR and HTC Vive as well as smartphones.
- IrisVR said its products are in beta testing and will be fully released by the end of 2016. The company's CEO, Shane Scranton, told TechCrunch that it is "reinventing the canvas" on which the design and construction industry communicate.
Virtual and augmented reality is emerging as a game-changing technology for the construction industry, as it can enhance collaboration among all project stakeholders before building even begins.
Michael Gonzalez, preconstruction director at McCarthy Building Companies, told Construction Dive earlier this year that virtual reality and augmented reality technologies allow the construction team to detect errors ahead of time and avoid costly mistakes. Stacy Scopano, senior construction industry strategy manager at Autodesk, said the proliferation of 3-D modeling software and new VR products like the Daqri Smart Helmet and Microsoft HoloLens are leading to the tipping point for VR in construction.
VR and AR can aid in more than just design and collaboration, as companies are finding ways to use the technologies to improve job site safety as well. The tools can let managers and workers view job site conditions without subjecting them to safety hazards. For example, researchers at the Institute for Computation in Engineering at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum in Germany are training workers on VR versions of job sites. And in September, construction giant Bechtel joined forces with Human Condition Safety to offer VR immersion safety training.