AR & VR – Discover How They Are Transforming the AEC Industry

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The construction industry often encounters challenges such as delays, reworks, work stoppages, and cost overruns. According to an Autodesk report, $31.3 billion was the cost of reworks in the USA in 2018.

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are two of the latest buzzwords in the AEC industry. These technologies are helping industry professionals tackle hurdles across different stages of construction to save time, money, and ensure accurate design.

What is VR?

VR uses computer technology to create a simulated environment. Unlike traditional user interfaces that depend on screens, VR immerses users in a 3D world where they can interact with the objects. The content and imagery in VR aim to stimulate the senses (touch, hearing & sight) to provide a real-life experience in the virtual world.

When to use VR

VR can be used in –

  • Design stage
  • Coordination stage

1.      Design stage

  • Early-stage concept validation
  • Visualize the impact of design changes
  • Marketing

Through VR mock-ups, all the stakeholders can be given a walkthrough to get an idea about what the design will look like. VR offers a very high degree of visualization so that stakeholders get an idea of how the building is going to look and feel. This also makes it a very good marketing tool.

Any impact of a design change will also show up in VR. During design reviews, for example, if an architect moves a column, the effect it will have on everything else in the model will be visible.

2.      Coordination stage

VR allows you to perform coordination review by being present physically in the virtually designed space, marking up the issues, or even fixing them. Revit models will automatically update the drawings accordingly. The enhanced visualization in VR makes the clash detection process interactive and fast.

What is AR?

AR, also known as mixed reality, is a blend of the virtual and the real world where digital information is overlayed on the real world. The crux of AR is that the real world remains central to the user experience, which is enhanced by virtual details.

When to use AR

AR can be used in –

1.      Construction stage

AR has revolutionized site inspection during the construction stage. In the traditional process, site inspectors go to the site to inspect a predetermined area with their drawings, create markups and fill reports for submission.

With AR, a site inspector visits the site with the AR goggles and simply walks around the predetermined area. This is an automated procedure where the distances are checked and markups are created digitally. Once markups are created, they can be sent directly to the office with still images from the VR Goggles. Watch this video to see AR in action during site inspections.

The Difference between VR & AR

VR & AR are two sides of the same coin. AR superimposes digital images over the real world whereas VR creates an artificial environment from scratch.

User is partially immersed into the experience Fully immersed into the experience
Augmentation of the real world Replaces reality
A sense of presence in the real world No sense of real-world presence

How are VR & AR changing the landscape of the construction industry?

VR technology can place a person inside a 3D BIM model to get a ‘’real feel” of the as-built condition of a building. The high degree of visualization in VR enables users to meticulously analyse a model.  At present, the coordination work in a 3D BIM model is done in Navisworks or BIM 360.   The same can be carried out in VR with enhanced benefits such as – 40% improvement in productivity due to enhanced visualization (360-degree screen) in VRThe real time scale of the 3D model enables a clearer understanding of the spatial relationship between objectsZ depth allows a natural understanding of 3D models   AR takes visualization to a whole new level. To illustrate this, we can draw a comparison between the traditional method of trying to visualize a building amidst other buildings by looking at a plan and the AR method. In the former method, it is difficult to gauge how a new building will fit into the cityscape, how is it going to look, or whether it is going to complement the other buildings in the vicinity. With AR, the models of the buildings can be overlayed on a phone to present a detailed view of the building in its intended location along with its surroundings.   Benefits of AR – Digital tapes during an inspection Model-based construction for accuracy Shorter time framesImproved safety standards with geotagging


To sum up, VR offers plenty of benefits during the pre-construction stage whereas AR’s gains come during the construction stage. Both these technologies have immense potential that can be tapped to bypass common construction challenges.

We would love to know your thoughts on the role of AR & VR in the construction industry in the comments section below. You can also share your thoughts or views on the article.

At Pinnacle, we specialize in refining your designs to make them more efficient, low cost, and safe.

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