I always pause when I hear about new emerging technologies—because quite candidly, technology only brings value if it solves a critical business problem.
Things like AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality), drones, robots, AI (artificial intelligence), and more are only as good as the process improvement it provides. That is why I am always excited when I see the opportunity for emerging technology to answer a real business need.
Let’s look at one example today: augmented reality. This technology quite simply superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world. Think Pokémon Go.
While AR is often associated with gaming, there is a real opportunity for it to impact construction, and some technology providers recognize this. For instance, Trimble has launched a mobile AR tool designed specifically for technicians in the field.
The objective is to connect field service technicians with support experts. Here’s how it works: The tool provides remote users with a shared, live view using the camera on a smartphone. Both individuals can digitally annotate the screen and provide realtime assistance to conduct maintenance and repairs.
The benefits here are vast. Technicians no longer rely on paper manuals and are able to quickly complete time-critical jobs by collecting key information. Further, it increases collaboration and knowledge sharing across the workforce—something highly needed today, as experienced workers need to share knowledge with new workers, as the workforce begins to change. Also, workers are able to easily capture, record, and replay information or support sessions as needed.
This is one example. I do believe there are real benefits for emerging technologies such as AR, VR, drones, robots, AI, and more—but only if we first recognize the business needs and respond with the technology where it fits best.
What are you seeing? What technologies offer the biggest opportunities for the construction industry today? What business problems exist that can potentially be solved with technology? And what needs to happen next in order for us to reach the place where the new technology is in place, and solving those needs?
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