Is AR mature enough to be used effectively in construction sites?


XYZ Reality, UCL, UKRI (Innovate UK)

CASA Contact

Khalid Fathy, Duncan Wilson, Grant Mills

Construction projects usually experience significant budget overruns and schedule delays. However, things are expected to change as today’s industry is changing towards more sustainable processes by adopting innovative technologies. Building information modelling (BIM) has proved its value in improving the overall performance throughout the project lifecycle. Yet, the use of BIM remains confined in the design and engineering phases. BIM is still underutilised on construction sites. The exchange and approval of information between office and site still occur in 2D format. The information found in traditional 2D drawings often has difficulty communicating design intent, especially in complex projects such as hospital builds. As a result, misinterpretation usually happens, leading to a huge amount of rework, RFIs and COs. Not to mention the waste of resources resulting from the enormous number of drawings and index sheets in site offices. Recently, research has been growing on Extended Reality (XR), and Augmented Reality (AR) holds the key to utilising BIM onsite.

The main idea is to visualise and interact with the BIM model on top of real objects onsite. Several studies indicated that AR can potentially improve quality & performance in applications like fabrication and installation, construction management, quality control, health & safety, and training. However, there are significant research gaps and limited consultancy expertise in construction AR. Another challenge is the lack of purpose-built AR devices that are designed for construction sites.

XYZ Reality is a London-based construction technology start-up, focused on developing AR solutions for construction projects. XYZ Reality has developed the ATOM, an Engineering-Grade AR headset with an integrated cloud-based solution to accurately visualise and interact with AR models onsite. XYZ’s ultimate vision is to eliminate the use of 2D drawings and transform current construction practices for design, manufacture and assembly using AR. XYZ has partnered with UCL to explore how AR can be used to build hospital projects on time and within budget. The project is a grant from the government, awarded by UKRI through Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with UCL’s Bartlett School of Sustainable Construction (BSSC) and Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA). The project is being led by a research associate from UCL.

The project aims to develop an AR Software Integration Platform. The platform can be integrated with widely used BIM tools and enable a smooth AR integration workflow with established BIM processes. Further development through the integration of Computer Vision should enable the automation of costly and time-consuming tasks such as automated progress measurement and automatic defects detection. The project also aims to obtain accurate metrics of performance and savings to be used as scientific evidence of AR benefits.