Some people find mixed reality (MR) to be a far-out concept that doesn’t yet have a place in construction. However, embracing it early on comes with a lot of great advantages. MR tools improve information flow and make working more efficient. Because they emulate real life, they are intuitive to use, only without the limits of the physical world.
Combining the physical and digital seamlessly
At its simplest, mixed reality is a combination of virtual and physical elements that coexist and interact with each other. By putting on MR glasses at the construction site, you can add digital structures into a physical space, test how they fit and change them accordingly. You can inspect them from as far or close as you wish, and they behave just like physical elements. Instead of a 2D world, MR offers a perception that’s as close to reality as possible.
Information never gets lost
The biggest benefit of mixed reality is that no information is lost. The information gap that inevitably appears when going from 3D to 2D and back can be erased with MR because the information remains in full 3D throughout the project. Compared to a flatscreen, 3D data in MR is much easier to understand. You have a perception of spatial relationships and are able to see distances and sizes as they are meant to appear in the finalized construction.
Using MR tools reduces rework. In concrete manufacturing, holograms are currently used in rebar work for giving instructions and assisting assembly. Because the 3D information is unambiguous, misinterpretations and errors that waste material and cause delays are less likely. Changes can also be implemented smoothly. If, for example, reinforcing structures are added to original plans on-site, the correct dimensions can be easily checked in the real environment.
Efficiency in planning and doing
MR affects efficiency in two ways. Firstly, it streamlines workflows. Although we create highly detailed 3D models, a lot of time is spent on finalizing 2D drawings. This is because manual additions often need to be made in order to make them fully understandable. Creating a 2D drawing whose information corresponds perfectly with a 3D model takes time and precision. By staying in 3D from the beginning and using MR to illustrate the model as closely to reality as possible, we are able to cut down significantly on the design process.
Secondly, MR has a positive impact on day-to-day work. It unlocks a wider field of view and unlimited hands-free access to information. With a richer user interface and full 3D available, the need to interpret and decode 2D drawings and fetch data disappears. In turn, working becomes faster and more intuitive.
A future of limitless hands-free data
The usability of MR tools is improving all the time. Within the next few years, we will see headsets that are small and comfortable enough to use all day, and let you access information hands-free, in real time.
In the future, we will look back at current human-machine interfaces as limiting. Once they’re accustomed to data access without a device, few people will want to go back. Could you, for example, imagine downgrading your touchscreen device to your old flip phone?