Augmented reality headgear may alter the construction industry

Ultra-sophisticated augmented reality (AR) headgear currently being developed and tested eventually may replace traditional hard hats, according to Bloomberg BNA.

The emerging technology is similar to virtual reality (VR), which immerses a user in a simulated world, but AR overlays digital information on a user's view of the real world. An AR headset can be loaded with data from building information modeling (BIM), which creates digital representations of structures. A worker looking at a wall through an AR headset's visor can see displayed BIM-derived imagery of the mechanical and plumbing systems behind the wall. A worker also can use the AR headset's display to check the specifications of a pipe and make sure the pipe is not overheating.

During the past couple of years, multiple AR case studies successfully have demonstrated the technology's cost-cutting, time-shaving and safety-boosting potential, Brian Mullins, CEO of Los Angeles-based AR company DAQRI, told Bloomberg BNA. During the two-year period, several large contractors have taken the technology beyond the pilot phase and started to use AR operationally, Mullins said. He believes the value of AR is similar to mobile computing.