With over 300% revenue growth in the last five years, the future of the augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) industries in the UAE is promising. Several factors, including rapid technological advancements, a surge in investment from startups, and increased adoption in multiple industries, drive this stable upswing.
The construction industry is among the newest users of this technology, and we’re seeing a more profound level of integration as contractors discover new applications for it. AR and VR technology’s only challenge is that it’s developing too quickly, and all the industries trying it out can’t catch up fast enough. As a result, constant upgrading is necessary to make the most of its features.
Difference between Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
While AR and VR have essentially the same goal—to provide interactive and immersive experiences that enhance the user’s perception of the real world or create entirely new ones—they are not the same. This means their applications also differ.
AR technology overlays digital information on the real world, changing how users view their surroundings. This can be achieved through the use of a mobile device, a headset, or smart glasses. AR technology can be used in various applications, such as gaming, education, healthcare, and retail. Examples include Snapchat filters, Pokémon Go, Google Translate, and wayfinding apps.
VR technology, on the other hand, creates an entirely immersive digital environment. Users can interact with elements or other users in this virtual world using a headset or specialized equipment. It pioneered modern gaming and simulation but is quickly gaining popularity in other industries, such as healthcare, architecture, and engineering. Examples include Oculus Quest 2, HTC Vive, Google Cardboard, and Tilt Brush.
Boh AR and VR are rapidly advancing and have the potential to revolutionize the way we interact with the world around us. It’s hardly surprising they remain the biggest tech segment in the UAE market and will continue to be one in the next decade.
What industries are using AR and VR technology?
AR and VR hold the missing pieces that limit the capabilities of various industries. And its multitudes of applications make it a lucrative inclusion in any field or business. Below are some of the sectors that are currently benefiting from AR and VR technology.
- Gaming and Entertainment – The introduction of AR and VR has led to the explosion of massively multiplayer online games (MMOs). This type of game allows multiple players to interact with each other in the same virtual world through their avatars. The gaming industry is the first to enjoy this technology’s many features.
- Education and Training – More and more schools are using AR and VR as supplemental instructional tools. They claim it has provided their students with a more engaging interactive learning experience. Meanwhile, industries offering high-risk jobs, including construction and health care, are using this construction industry technology to train personnel in a controlled and safe environment through AR/VR simulations.
- Health Care – Besides helping to improve training programs by providing simulations, AR and VR are being used in the healthcare industry for other purposes, including pain management, therapy, and surgical planning. It can also be used to simulate crises to improve a hospital’s emergency response.
- Retail and Advertising – Modern shops are using AR to help customers make more educated decisions. It lets them preview products virtually before purchasing, enhancing their shopping experience. This tool can also be used to create more engaging and interactive ad campaigns.
- Tourism and Travel – Virtual tours and experiences that make travel ads more appealing haven’t existed until AV and VR became popular. The tourism and travel industry continues exploring this technology to enhance customer experiences, improve productivity, and provide new and innovative services.
How are Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality transforming the construction industry?
Unsurprisingly, AR and VR technology is also increasingly used in the construction industry for various purposes. Generally, it enables contractors to improve safety and enhance communication, especially when combined with other advanced construction tools like PlanRadar. Here’s how it’s transforming construction project management.
1. Design and Planning
Construction professionals, particularly architects and engineers, traditionally rely on blueprints to visualize designs. This changed with the advent of building information modeling (BIM), which allows construction professionals to collaborate in improving building plans on a single multi-layer virtual twin. Then AR and VR technology came and blew everything out of proportion. Construction project management and collaborative design solutions have never been more efficient. Here’s an overview of virtual and augmented reality’s impact on construction.
2. More Effective Safety Training
VR is the closest thing to a real construction site experience. It can be used to create realistic simulations of dangerous construction scenarios, allowing workers to practice safety protocols in a safe and controlled environment. These simulations also help project management teams develop reliable safety protocols.
3. Remote Collaboration
Decision makers for a construction project may not always be on-site. In situations where the inputs and insights of those working remotely are critical, AR and VR can make collaboration possible. This lets stakeholders view and discuss construction projects from different locations in real time.
4. On-Site Assistance
Traditionally, on-site construction professionals and laborers use printed blueprints as a guide. This changed when digital drawings and models became accessible on mobile devices. They can even be streamed or downloaded online, enhancing building design visualization. AR and VR took it up a notch by creating a 3D virtual representation of the structure that appears when the mobile device’s camera is directed to the area that needs to be examined.
5. Maintenance and Repairs
AR and VR can also provide maintenance and repair personnel with a visual overlay of a building’s infrastructure, allowing them to identify and fix issues quickly. Construction companies are also exploring integrating this technology into quality assurance systems.
This technology, although still developing, has the potential to significantly optimize construction processes, boost site safety, and reduce costs by providing more efficient ways to plan, execute, and maintain construction projects. In addition, it has the necessary capability for virtual prototyping, which is many times more efficient than traditional modeling.
The Future of Construction with Augmented and Virtual Reality
As clients demand better cost efficiency and sustainability, construction companies must continue to look for advanced solutions to optimize their processes. AR and VR are among those solutions. Recent advancements already feature tools combining both technologies to allow immersion in virtual environments without completely losing sight of the physical world. These tools are called mixed reality (MR).
MR is one of the advancements in AR and VR that, until recently, was the future we hoped to experience, and we’re experiencing it much sooner. This technology is evolving faster, so we expect more advanced simulations that provide more realistic training experiences in the next few years.
Just as the virtual world in games has become more and more realistic, we expect the graphics used in construction simulations and virtual twins to be more realistic as well. In addition, features that further boost collaboration and communication will definitely be added, and integrating with project management software will become sleeker than ever.
Augmented and virtual reality are providing an efficient way to approach the future of construction. Estimators have quicker access to needed data and can use toolkits to speed up processes in sharing and storing information. The immersive technology of augmented and virtual reality is allowing for effective collaboration between construction teams for a more informed decision-making process, which results in better quality project builds.
Furthermore, it allows users to have real-time insights into the building environment, reducing time requirements or on-site visits to inspect assets. With the implementation of augmented and virtual reality, we can expect a better built future for companies and individuals alike. Cost-effective solutions are showing their potential uses in current industry trends, as well as help attract fresh talent interested in innovative technological methods. We can certainly say that this technology augments – pun intended – our capacity to build efficiently, no matter how large the task may be.