What does the year 2016 hold for technology users on construction projects? Over the past few months we have witnessed the release of the AppleWatch, SurfacePro 4, higher internet speeds, new sensors, and more. How can these innovations benefit the construction space going forward? I recently reached out to a few fellow construction technology associate’s and collected the following predictions.

Exoskeletons and Wearables

“I’m looking forward to seeing what the next innovations will be in the drone, exoskeleton and wearables spaces. The group of available applications for the construction space will further refine and possibly consolidate. This, along with market acceptance of smarter field management systems, will give tangible benefits to forward thinking organizations.”

Peter Grant, CEO & Founder at Safesite

Real Time Project Management

“The construction app market is going to move away from a multitude of simple apps towards more integrated apps designed to cover 90% of the use cases encountered on-site. The “field management” vertical that puts the foreman at the center is emerging as a necessary complement to traditional “project management” technology.”

Yves Frinault, Co-founder & CEO at Fieldwire

BYOD & Paperless Projects

“The bring your own device (BYOD) trend has already exploded in many enterprise organizations, but in 2016 we believe it will begin to break into the construction industry as well. Now more than ever construction workers are being tasked to integrate data into their everyday work. While this information traditionally has been limited to senior management or supervisors, in 2016 we’ll see an increasing number of construction workers getting instant access to the data they need via personal devices for faster answers and increased productivity.

Say goodbye paper processes! As construction companies are being pushed to lower costs and increase operational efficiencies we’ll see an increase in business applications that help automate processes, share data in real time and provide centralized and searchable information for users across job sites.

Technology is no longer limited to help people become more efficient. In 2016 we’ll see an increase in tech-driven machinery on the job site to operationalize construction equipment. Sensors allow organizations to gather information direct from the source and port it into centralized business apps to track everything from the wear and tear on equipment, GPS locations of trucks or even fuel consumption across onsite vehicles.”
Duane Gabor, Alliances & Business Development at QuickBase

Virtual Reality and Device Security

“Virtual reality is going to begin to become more and more commonplace in everyday life.  Oculus, HTC, and Sony are all releasing VR products in early 2016, and companies are starting to get behind the idea.  The NBA is already working to offer tickets to courtside seats to their games through virtual reality.  Apple is also making acquisitions in VR to get itself into the space.  SmartReality has some very exciting new virtual reality features in store for an early 2016 release…

Devices are going to start becoming more and more connected.  Many thermostats, smoke detectors, and house lights are already wifi enabled.  Tesla’s Model S car connects to your home wifi to update itself.  Imagine the repercussions of a virus on your car…  As our devices all begin to connect to the internet, ensuring security and data privacy are going to be of paramount concern.”

Graham Leslie,  Team Lead of JBK Labs at JBKnowledge

Augmented & Virtual Reality

“With regard to technology, staying current with advances in techniques for managing data, sharing or presenting design ideas and engaging prospective clients rank right up among the top pressing challenges. Technology moves at such a fast-pace compared to the speed of a building design process or even that of getting a development approved in a community – so it is no surprise that even the idea of keeping up with the ever-changing landscape of technology is an unsavory one. Yet, resistance to the changing technological environment can itself be an obstacle to success and growth in the industry.

Architects must continually innovate and find ways to exploit cutting-edge technologies and create practical solutions for their clients. They also need to collaborate and challenge their designers and construction teams to use the best possible BIM tools available. When they come up with a great idea, they need to communicate it succinctly and in a way that leaves little room for misunderstanding.

My first prediction for the year ahead involves the ways in which architects will communicate their design intent. I see an overall increased adoption of virtual and augmented reality in both wearable and mobile devices this coming year.

Viewing models in 3D for walkthroughs whether in ARCHICAD or another BIM software has become so commonplace, the way has been paved for VR viewers to become standard issue for anyone who wants to experience virtual reality. Fargo, ND based, Simonson Lumber became an early adopter of ARCHICAD combining the power of ARCHICAD with Occulus Rift to create a virtual experience for their customers.
“We’ll take the ARCHICAD drawings, import them into BIMx and then use the 3D model with an Occulus Rift headset to allow the customer to view their home through virtual reality. The model scales up to that spatially, the customer can walk through the home. The headset tracks their movements and essentially gives them the feeling they are inside the home before it is built.”

Josh Bone, Sales Director at Graphisoft

Stay tuned for more predictions later this week…