When will Augmented Reality in Construction Deliver on its Promise?

By Stephen Smith, VPD Operations Lead, Bechtel

The concept of using an electric display that overlays data onto real life was first mentioned in 1901 by Author L Frank Baum. It was not until 1990 until the term ‘Augmented Reality’ was coined by Thomas P. Caudell from Boeing.  Augmented reality (AR) is defined as a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented (or supplemented) by virtual computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

“The “Sword of Damocles” head-mounted display was the original augmented reality headset, circa 1968.”

Within Construction the idea of using AR to aid with visualising building projects is not a new concept. Using computer generated images of a structure superimposed into the real life intended location was demonstrated by Trimble back in 2004. 

AR will eventually play a major part in delivery of construction projects once the key blockers are addressed and the construction use cases are fully understood. Ultimately it could be an invaluable tool across all the construction supply chain to augment the construction site with business and safety critical information allowing site teams to deliver projects more efficiently and more safely. If engineers can retrieve augmented information 2D, 3D, nD, video or voice to understand and access what is currently hidden information then the early promise can be fulfilled. 

This article is published with kind permission by The Institution of Civil Engineers. For more information visit https://www.ice.org.uk.