Virtual reality has so much untapped potential outside of gaming and thankfully, a lot of industries are now waking up to the benefits it has to offer. Both to their businesses and their clients.
One industry that hasn’t been sleeping on virtual reality quite so much is construction. According to a study by PwC, 62% of construction companies are either already using VR or exploring how it can better their performance. Everything between the top-level design, iterating and safety measures that the construction industry demands can be done in virtual environments.
But with or without VR, using technology during the design phase is already being done in construction, through the use of BIM. And virtual reality is the natural next step for this industry.
Building Information Modelling, or BIM, has been around since the ‘80s and like all decades-old tech, has come a long way since it arrived.
BIM provides a detailed and digital 3D representation of a building and is the important first step in any project — whether large-scale or small-scale, residential or commercial. According to Autodesk, the percentage of BIM-using contractors is expected to grow to 69% by 2024.
In terms of VR, construction has a lower barrier to entry given that many in this sector are already using BIM technology. While BIM lets you create 3D designs based on a build’s schematics, VR lets you actually walk through them. To see them and be in them, even though they don’t exist yet.
Iterating designs in construction isn’t just extremely difficult — it’s also incredibly expensive. VR allows for more accurate planning which, ultimately, helps to reduce costs and saves wasting time and money on adjusting designs further down the line.
The best person for the job isn’t always the one who’s in the same country. Thanks to VR, construction companies can hire remote specialists to assist in either the building or training process, greatly opening up the talent pool and opportunity for innovation.
There are a million things that can go wrong on a construction site, which explains the endless inspections, rigid safety measures and requirement for rigorous training and certifying for contractors. Property developers and contractors can run training simulations to further minimize the chances of life-threatening and expensive accidents occurring.
VR provides an immersive, unique space that allows stakeholders, developers and contractors to communicate over all aspects of a build. Every inch of a schematic or a 3D model can be reviewed and improved upon before construction begins.
VR is having its nascent, though it’ll take some time to formally sow its roots as an indispensable asset to industries worldwide. But in the coming decades, using virtual reality will eventually become the norm. And not just for construction but for just about every other industry, too.
Sectors like education, healthcare, interior design and retail are already warming up to it for better training, collaborations and customer experiences.
The construction companies that are using VR technology already recognize what it does to improve collaboration and the skills of contractors; how they can prepare for worst-case scenarios and save money and time, as well as prevent costly and avoidable overruns.
While it may not be a widely used tool in the industry now, it certainly will be in the future. And those that are using it will have a clear advantage over competitors.