In recent years, organizations in a variety of sectors have adopted web-enabled technology to streamline their processes and facilitate nimble business models that can withstand ever-changing market conditions. Oil and gas companies now survey remote or hard-to-access lines with drones, airlines equip aircraft with web-enabled sensors that audit engine operations and logistics companies do the same, outfitting their rigs with smart trackers that monitor traffic conditions and tell long-haul truckers how to best conserve fuel.
Many architecture firms and developers have joined these innovative businesses in adopting a number of cutting-edge technologies that ease the building process and yield stronger structures. Here are a few of the devices currently transforming the industry:
In June, the Federal Aviation Administration released new rules for commercial drone operation, The New York Times reported. These regulations immediately opened up new possibilities for organizations looking into drone technology. Now, experts predict commercial drone activity to skyrocket in 2017, as organizations take advantage of the new guidelines.
In the wake of this event, some in the development arena have adopted these aerial vehicles, Julian Mitchell reported for Forbes. For instance, a number of builders have partnered with the Pittsburgh-based drone firm Identified Technologies to map construction sites from above. Normally, crews do this mapping, which can take more than a month. A single drone can map an entire worksite in mere hours, cutting labor costs and expediting the construction process.
Of course, even before the FAA issued its new regulations, developers were already testing out drones. Last year, Turner Construction allowed faculty from the University of Illinois to monitor crews as they completed the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento, the MIT Technology Review reported. The structure, which now serves as the home of the city’s National Basketball Association team The Kings, benefited from insights collected during daily drone flights.
In the coming years, developers will surely copy the model to construct better buildings, meet deadlines, prevent worker injuries and save money.
Augmented and virtual reality
The architects and engineers responsible for planning commercial and residential projects are taking of another recent innovation: augmented and virtual reality technology. Earlier this year, Microsoft released the HoloLens, which uses sensors, advanced optical components and holographic processors to deliver design tools that allow architects to create and interact with exterior and interior blueprints, Architecture Magazine reported. Users can develop digital models and then use the HoloLens to experience and reconfigure them, in scale. This presents great potential for architects and planners, as they can tweak proposed structures while literally standing inside them.
These devices also present new opportunities from a client-relations perspective. When investors want to review blueprints or get a feel for future construction, they can strap on AR or VR headsets and truly explore their projects. This capability alone can save money and time, rendering costly planning sessions unnecessary and reducing the likelihood of architect-client conflict.
As these technologies continue to mature, more architects and developers will adopt them, catalyzing a wider technological shift that will ultimately change the construction industry. So, stay tuned.