As technology continues to evolve exponentially, construction firms have ongoing opportunities to enhance the quality, speed, and efficiency of building projects and processes.
Construction Executive highlights three emerging trends that will give construction innovators a competitive advantage in 2015.
1. Augmented reality and wearables. Augmented reality technologies allow the user to see a digital image beside or on top of their view of the world. The use of these technologies in construction has the potential to make virtual design and construction (VDC) and building information management (BIM) more accessible onsite. Using GPS already present in most augmented reality technologies, users could sync their location data to a BIM model. In doing so, they would have the ability to see the 3-D virtual view of the construction overlaid on the real-world view of the jobsite with the click of a button.
2. ‘Phablets’ to replace tablets onsite. A phablet is a smartphone with a screen that is intermediate in size between that of a typical smartphone and a tablet computer. Construction professionals have been struggling for the past few years over whether they should deploy tablets such as the iPad onsite due to the large screen size, or invest in company smartphones that allow for better collaboration. The struggle may be coming to an end with the introduction of phablet devices that provide the best of both worlds.
3. NFC to gain popularity onsite. NFC, or near-field communications, is a secure form of data exchange that allows data to be transferred from physical tags to NFC-enabled devices. The technology is frequently discussed in relation to mobile payments (tap to pay and pay from a phone).
As NFC begins to grow as a popular form of data exchange, expect to see many uses for it in construction, especially with materials tracking, prefabrication and workforce management. For example, NFC can be used to track prefabricated sections of large structures as they arrive onsite. Tracking these prefabricated materials can help quickly identify if an incorrect section has been delivered, or if parts are missing prior to installation – saving time and labor costs.