Exploring Inner Space is the Future of Construction

Author: Ross Sturley, CIMCIG

Graeme Lipschitz, Wonderland Collective, writes: As the world becomes smaller, it makes sense to concentrate less on building upwards, than it does to build inwards; by that I mean using immersive technology to scale the processes and opportunities within the construction industry.

Touted as “the next big thing,” immersive technology hasn’t taken off as well as this technologist had hoped; with that said, however, it is changing the way we plan, build and run large scale construction projects and it’s only set to expand from this inception point.

Virtual Reality scans of real-world properties allow us to simulate, with millimeter accuracy, the real built environment around us and, much like how Google’s Streetview has increased the exploration of the world around us or “outer space”, this technology allows us to scale the exploration of the built environment or “inner space”. But not only do they allow us to be transported to other buildings from our desks, they allow us to plan what’s next and we can easily transpose BIM objects and CAD renderings into those virtual environments. This type of functionality allows us to get consensus from various players at scale and bring down the time it takes for new builds to be approved.

Included in the functionality of this new technology is the ability to “carve out,” “outline” or “mark” various items within our building’s facility management infrastructure. For example, we could mark out a ceiling’s air-conditioning unit and connect it via the internet-of-things to this virtual environment. Facilities managers could then operate and report on this infrastructure remotely; enabling off-site reviews and maintenance. The benefits of this type of technology are enormous as we’ll no-longer rely on on-site facilities management or executives making transatlantic trips to make decisions around their growing business locations.

With regards to marketing, this kind of technology allows marketers to preempt the actual construction of a building and sell the vision in a way that is totally accurate and engaging; after all – with a headset on, it’s not like you can play on your phone or drink a cup of tea. With the added benefit of linking this technology to media such as YouTube – we can start to immerse the potential customer not only in the virtual environment, but also one that has the added benefit of video. This is great for marketing case studies where we can demonstrate before-and-after construction work with client testimony.

Bang and Olufsen recently did a virtual reality scan of their Hanover Square showroom and sent branded Google Cardboard headsets to their most valued clients. The clients walked through the virtual showroom and clicked on whatever product interested them to view special YouTube videos. 87% of people who received the headsets initialized the experience, with the average time immersed in the experience just short of 7 minutes. The whole project cost less than £10k and took under two weeks to create.

This may have been for a big, sexy brand but the fact remains: this technology has a lot of pulling power, demands your attention and can be used in myriad exciting ways.

Graeme Lipschitz is co-founder of Wonderland Collective, a brand and digital agency which helps companies in the Architecture, Design and Construction industry to bring their brands to life using immersive digital technology. He spoke at the recent CIMCIG seminar on Immersive Marketing in Construction. He has been at the helm of over 50 projects focusing on construction marketing, using new technology and customer-led strategy