Virtual and augmented reality technologies in the AEC industry

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University of New Brunswick
The application of virtual reality and augmented reality technologies in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry has tremendously increased. These technologies have various applications such as simulating construction performance, comparing as-built and as-planned statuses of projects, pre-empting schedule disputes, improving collaboration opportunities, and training for similar projects. The research questions in this study are: (1) To what extent do virtual and augmented reality technologies minimize the time and effort required for monitoring project progress? (2) What is the effect of using virtual and augmented reality technologies on project status comparison and the accuracy of detected changes? The hypotheses of this thesis are: (1) virtual and augmented reality technologies will reduce the time required to compare project status by 25% (2) These technologies will increase the accuracy of detected changes. This thesis aims to answer this question by conducting an in-depth review and analysis of virtual and augmented reality technologies and their comparison role in the AEC industry. Based on the review, a comprehensive, multi-dimensional classification scheme for virtual and augmented reality technology applications in the AEC industry has been developed which shows that many of these technologies use construction daily photographs and image-processing techniques to control projects progress. Image-based modeling techniques for project monitoring are also reviewed, and required resource, intermediate product, and a process model for image-based project status comparison techniques in the AEC industry have been developed. The review shows that many of these newly developed image-based technologies are in their trial stage and their efficacy have not been assessed yet. Finally, a pilot study is conducted to answer the research question and to assess the efficacy of virtual and augmented reality technologies relative to traditional methods of assessing project status. The pilot study shows that image-based virtual reality technologies reduce the time required for monitoring project statuses; however, the quantity and accuracy of detected changes are also reduced.