When it comes to collaboration, are you a big fan of the white-board? What if we were to tell you that your well-loved whiteboard will eventually take residence next to your dusty cassette tape player? Would you believe it? Technologies in the form of virtual, augmented, and mixed reality are becoming a game-changer for team collaboration, enabling a spatial environment for effective decision-making. Immersive collaboration allows users to communicate in real-time, effectively working together from remote locations as if they were walking a project site together. This posts highlights the five ways immersive technologies are transforming project team engagement.
- Design Development. In a virtual space, virtual and mixed reality is a great way to communicate design intent. Project stakeholders are able to evaluate design options, determine the impact of lighting during different times of day, or see the outside view from a mezzanine. There are many other ways a virtual space can aid in design; the range is almost limitless. Ultimately, immersive technologies allow users to experience the space and make design decisions in a more effective way.
- Virtual Site Walks. Virtual reality and mixed reality allows engineers and architects to create interactive walkthroughs and provide clients with a realistic sense of the space in a simulated environment. It is an ideal way to explore the relationship between spaces and imagine what it would be like to occupy the space.
- Design Data to Physical Environment Visualization. Mixed reality technologies overlay virtual elements to a real-world environment. Combining the advantages of both VR and AR, mixed reality allows you to manipulate your surroundings virtually. Design data is superimposed on the physical environment therefore reducing subjective interpretation.
- Collaboration. Mixed reality technology integrated with construction layout software and utilizing 3D BIM models as a main data source improves communication, tightens workflow integration, and enables real time collaboration with remote teams. Users can visualize the design in context, and can better understand, interact with, and execute the required actions in real time. The immediate visual feedback makes the production control process more effective and reveals any deviation in real time. When combined with holographic technology, mixed reality can improve remote collaboration. The ability to share 3D holograms with remote stakeholders, and improves communication and collaboration efficiency.
- Training. Virtual reality simulator training programs can benefit trainers and operators looking to excel. A good way to make use of virtual site walk is to create a safety tutorial in virtual reality to address a construction site’s unique conditions. A digital job walk can include critical safety instructions, general rules, insights to inaccessible areas and visualization of do’s and don’ts. Classical job site lecturing or a video cannot provide the same possibilities for construction workers. VR safety training allows users to navigate throughout the virtual space. In a simulated job site environment, trainees can recognize volatile workplace situations as well as acquire knowledge of procedures and skills.
Being able to make effectively collaborate in the digital space provides tangible results. While immersive technologies require a bit of a learning curve to use productively, they allow workers to collectively and remotely work in and around a space, manipulate the building's elements and evaluate the result.
Have you used immersive technologies to collaborate? If so, please share your experiences with us in the comments section below.