Though it’s still mostly associated with video games and other forms of entertainment, virtual reality is more and more frequently used in professional settings. Many industries have already come to recognise how much they can gain by implementing VR as part of their process.
The construction industry may have been slow to pick up new technological advancements in the past, but currently, it stands to benefit the most out of using VR (as well as its sister-tech, AR), and so the future of VR in construction management seems to be looking bright.
The main use of VR in the construction industry is very closely related to the concept of Building Information Modeling (BIM). The term defines the practice of providing clients with a 3D model of the project before beginning construction. While BIM goes a long way in making it easier for the client to visualise the project as it is intended to look like by the architect, BIM tools can be quite cumbersome to use. VR can help remedy this, allowing every person involved with the project to freely interact with the project, so that designers can make more detailed adjustments to it before any construction has commenced. Not only is this far more interactive and practical in terms of the very process of construction, it is also a far more enticing way of presenting your project to your client.
A collaborative tool
VR can be utilised by far more members of the team than just the architect. Not confined to architectural drawings or unapproachable 3D tools, VR allows construction projects to be easily accessed and modified by other contractors, as well as clients. Involving others in the process gives architects access to immediate feedback and a much broader perspective, resulting in a more fleshed out design that better meets the client’s expectation. Clients themselves are also given a chance to provide their input and voice their expectations more clearly far before the construction has even started, which greatly minimises the risk of any errors and misunderstandings occuring.
What lies ahead
Though these uses are currently being implemented and seem quite logical, there are bound to be even more uses for VR in construction management in the future, if only due to the fact that VR technology is evolving in an increasing rate. Even as it stands today, VR carries a great amount of potential that the construction industry is yet to put to good use. The biggest obstacle preventing VR from becoming more widely used in increasingly creative ways is the price, as full VR sets are still quite an expensive investment. And yet, with VR technologies utilising more and more affortable tools, such as smartphones or the Google Cardboard, it is very likely that the future of widespread use of VR in construction management is much closer than we think.