In many ways, construction is one of the least digitized industries in today’s economy, with many workers continuing to employ tried and true manual methods. A shift is underway, however, as more advanced, field-friendly tools reach construction sites around the globe. With digital platforms like CAD and BIM now considered industry staples, the next step in the digital revolution is introducing Augmented Reality (AR) applications that empower construction crews to compare digital models with onsite conditions. However, while AR tools have been demonstrated to improve efficiency and streamline processes, the adoption of these applications can be challenging given the nature of construction work and industry demographics.
The average age of contractors and trades tends to be higher than workers in other industries and many construction workers prefer “hands-on” methods and time-tested tools and techniques. As in all industries, the incoming wave of next generation workers is much more tech-savvy; however, crew managers may be cautious about adopting digital applications that they perceive to be too difficult to use, costly or disruptive. Yet, AR can help support this transformation and the development of a new digital culture by providing interfaces based on tools and equipment with which crews are already familiar. Through easy-to-use smartphone apps, AR overlays digital content onto physical surroundings, allowing users to visualize solutions within real-world environments. Experts agree that AR will be the gateway to rapid digital adoption on construction sites worldwide.