In present Virtual Reality (VR) is only a norm for the gamers. It was born as a tool for gaming. What we can say about VR for gamers is that it is a tool that enables them to immerse into a new dimension while playing their favourite games. Special thing about this VR is it gives the users the chance to get thrown into a new, digitally constructed reality, which resembles real life. But the gaming industry is not the only place where VR is useful.
To look into the perspective of coping with reality is a real challenge for professionals working in the construction industry to be specific, it is indeed to be very well-known that construction projects when it comes to life, they can be threatened by a higher amount of inefficiencies that can contribute towards a low profit margins.
In current construction industry, many common problems are found which are directly correlated with the inability of field personnel,designers, architects and engineers to truly experience a project before it is built. Thus, this can create cost issue and in many instances work has to be stopped or paused as construction teams stumble upon errors which they could not seen on drawing. Rather than using immersive technology, 3D model is what the professionals are practicing at this moment as for them to visualise how alike a finalised project would be to the initial plans when complete.
In future, the usage of VR can be variety as from gaming shifting to another more practical applications. VR can indeed help the professionals from any industry, but particularly in the construction industry. By having VR as an incredible tools that can give them the chance to immerse themselves in a project before spending months or even years to construct it.
Futhermore, not only design stage that VR can give the professionals the advantages but also towards the safety in construction field. Implementing virtual reality in construction has opened several avenues for improving not only for design, pitching projects but also enhancing training and safety. Therefore, in this paper we will discuss on the current challenges that construction industry has to face every time and VR can be a solution to the problems and issues related.
Starting from a piece of paper and a pen, the construction industry has always based on tools that allow designers to preview and analyse images and ideas, and at the same time give them to plan which actions should be taken to physically assemble a model.
New technologies have recently been developed to project and deliver these ideas in a three-dimensional space which mean these new advances have penetrate into the construction sector, helping professionals from all over the world to have better and more precise perception on the technical specificities of their projects. Technology such as computer-aided design (CAD), as well as 3D modelling and Building Information Modelling (BIM), are often used to show clients formats, spaces, and systems before a brick is laid.
However, previewing paper and flat computer-generated details still only provides practitioners with a limited experience of the complete building thus, certain faults related to construction and design arise only when the construction process has already started, and these issues force practitioners to stop work and re-assess the feasibility of the construction. These problems are usually very difficult to spot on a digitally generated image, as even 3D models, due to their lack of depth, cannot visualise clearly exactly how the building or facility will look and feel like when built. Often, these shortcomings also affect business relationships as the designer’s vision for the completed structure fails to match the client’s need. While when on paper, in fact, it is very difficult for the client to communicate their exact needs, and at times the finalized project doesn’t correspond to the desired outcome (Amanda C.,2017).
2.2 SITE SAFETY
Serious accidents and fatalities in construction may have declined in recent years, but they still happen. As a result, main contractors are faced with the challenge of finding a solution to communicate and deliver essential safety information that people will engage with, and that will ensure them to know how to prevent any activities causing them or their colleagues towards any harm.
The traditional technique is to provide a site induction for every new member of staff, operative or visitor when they first arrive at a site, often daily briefings and toolbox meeting that highlight on specific issues related to current activities. The people delivering these briefings and inductions tend to rely on traditional communication methods such as PowerPoint slides, perhaps a short video or some multiple choice questions.
Despite the best efforts and clearly good intentions of the presenters, these sessions often fail in their basic remit which should give site workers the necessary knowledge and tools to avoid accident and harm. And the problem is worsened by the fragmented nature of the industry and reliance on subcontractors, which mean that operatives frequently move between sites, receiving similar safety inductions. Not surprisingly, they stop listening after a while (Margo C.,2018)
The Virtual environment (VE) is referred to the dynamic 3D presentation capability on 2D screens which offer unique opportunities that allow users to experience real-time interactive objects and environments. Research has addressed the VE in relation to users’ spatial cognitive factors (Yoon., et al,2015). Based on BIM Level 2, technologies such as 3D modelling and BIM are already being widely implemented in the industry, in particular, the UK has already issued BIM Level 2 ruling for public projects from 2016.
The AEC industry is striving to increase the level of interoperability between the different professional disciplines directly involved in the execution of the project, therefore, architects, engineers and contractors are beginning to align and coordinate the tools and technologies they use in their fields of work. At the same time, however, clients and consultants who are not directly involved in the technical planning and execution often have a limited or incomplete understanding of the process and the expected outcome.
Although BIM offers a various of conventions to facilitate and accelerate the planning and construction of a project for professionals, it provides a limited ability to interrogate space, form and atmosphere from the point of view of a non-AEC professional. The potential of VR lies in bridging this gap between clients and building industry personnel by leveraging the data already compiled in the BIM models.
The ability to experience together in virtual space the same place that does not exist physically while the participants are actually in different geographical locations brings forward a revolution in perception rather than in technology within the AEC sector. The design reviews of BIM models are further enhance by the VR technology so as to identify problems early on in the design stage and avoid subsequent delays.
The capability to visualise technical information, accurately represent ideas and perform simulations can potentially increase the awareness of the client of the exact final form of the built asset. People untrained in the AEC disciplines often have difficulty in getting an accurate sense of space just by reading orthogonal drawings or trying to determine how renders relate to them. Additionally, traditional renderings often provide a misrepresentation of form, colour and lighting due to skewed perspective or unrealistic points of view while the VR environment immerses the user so that they can experience it for themselves. This sense of presence also ensures stakeholders of the worth of their investment. Additionally, clients can leverage the VR environment for marketing purposes or training of staff. The research conducted by Heydarian 9, emphasise the need for the involvement of the end-user and their input early on in the design development so as to increase their confidence in their investments and ensure satisfaction at the close out and also produce better design with regard to performance. These results can be further enhanced by the use of the VR environments in the post-construction stages of the project and in the facility management of the building.
The VR simulations present an opportunity to create accurate and comprehensive reference of the possibilities for prefabrication. Additionally, as construction is a high-risk industry, the ability to estimate and prevent hazards in the execution of the design is a primary goal of the sector. One of the first stages of achieving this goal is sharing the available data among all the sectors involved from the design and concept stage to construction and throughout the project.
4.0 VIRTUAL REALITY (VR) IN CONSTRUCTION – SITE SAFETY
Virtual reality could be the key to finding meaningful and engaging ways to deliver vital site safety information. As mentioned by JLT Specialty (Insurance and risk management service) on 17 January 2018, Virtual reality (VR) is adding a new dimension to health and safety training. The technology gives teams the skills to reduce accidents by creating simulations of real workplaces and hazards. This allows users to familiarise themselves with dangerous situations without the risk of being harmed. Construction firm Bechtel is trialling a VR training programme, and it shouldn’t be long before immersive VR safety training is part of the course.
Training and safety programs are being developed to make such training more accessible and safer for employees. A forklift training, and certification company, has a VR training program that allows trainees to practice working the machinery in an easy and safe environment. It reduces the risk of injury and damage to equipment while allowing for trial-and-error practice. Should a health and safety issue arise in the actual hazardous environment, employees have already experienced such an incident in the virtual environment and are more likely to react in an appropriate manner. Taken from article by Heidi (2017), Dr. Sam Vine, from the university of Exeter, says that using these techniques brings training “into the 21st century.” She continues: “We have the capability to create computer-generated (virtual) or 360-degree filmed replications of dangerous training environments that trainees can experience through their headsets. Combined with our understanding of the psychology of learning and performing under pressure, we believe this to be a highly effective way to learn and perfect skills
Imagine stepping inside your own design to truly explore its flaws and potential. This takes 3D modeling to a whole new level, allowing architects, engineers, and developers to create their vision on a computer before putting on VR glasses to truly investigate the design.
This technique can be especially useful for highly complex projects, as it allows teams to find errors in the design before construction even begins. This can increase safety and make the building process more efficient. And for construction crews on site, they can use virtual reality helmets to see what they are building as they go.
Yes, the future is here. With the implementation of the above technology, in addition to those that have not even been invented yet, we will see a complete revolution of a time-old industry. From wearable tech to virtual reality, these technologies have the potential to open up a multi-industry solution.
“It’s probably going to take people from outside the construction community, who think completely different than ones who’ve been doing it, and look at the process without any of the hardwired thinking that people who’ve been in the sector can’t help but revert to, and imagine ways of solving problems very differently and generating greater value,” AOL founder and venture capitalist Steve Case said, according to Builder.
This development will involve web developers, construction managers, designers, inventors, and more to create useful and compelling products for a better future. But it will need to be a collaborative process for these technologies to truly take hold in the long run.
By taking this innovation seriously and recruiting the right talent, construction can become a safer and more productive industry with high growth potential. And as with many groundbreaking inventions, it all starts with brilliant ideas that fill a genuine need. From there, construction can continue to drive development for future generations.