The AEC industry is being transformed thanks to innovative technologies such as augmented reality, BIM, drones, wearable technologies and new materials. Here are the top 10 trends to look out for in 2019! (part 1)

Construction technology is impacting the AEC industry like never before. When looking back throughout this industry’s history you can notice that some great advances have taken place. This article will provide a brief overview of some emerging technologies that are transforming the construction process.

Some of the latest technologies, developed various years ago, have now reached an adequate level of maturity to be introduced today for industry applications, thanks to increasingly lower costs. The use of drones and laser scanners in surveys and building maintenance are some examples.

Other technologies have, instead, successfully passed the “experimental” phase, and today they are ready to be used by companies, simplifying and innovating the construction sector and bringing greater productivity and safety.

Here are the 10 innovative technologies trends that are ready to transform the construction sector in 2019:

  1. wearable and portable technologies
  2. augmented reality in the design phase
  3. green and eco-sustainable asphalt
  4. drones and laser scanners for surveying
  5. innovative self-repairing concretes
  6. robotics and building automation
  7. BIM platforms
  8. transparent aluminum
  9. new specialized professional figures
  10. 3D printers for construction

Our first article we will focus on wearable technologies, augmented reality and green and eco-sustainable asphalt; while, other technologies will be the subject of further articles.

Wearable and portable technologies

Wearable and portable technologies can be defined as smart electronic devices rich in innovation and energy that can be incorporated into clothing. This new disruptive technology is expanding extensively on the market with devices that are smaller and more discrete, smarter and aware of the context in which they are being used, lighter and wireless, portable, useful and able to tackle specific tasks, wearable and, above all, with friendly interfaces.

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These devices can be very useful for tracking and monitoring the workers’ presence and their routes on a construction site. This allows us to know exactly where each individual is working, and to better manage and coordinate the workflow directly from the office (moving workers where more needed).

These small devices, such as bracelets, headphones, helmets, tablets, in addition to being highly technological, are also impact, weather and scratches resistant.

Obviously, they can also be integrated to internal communication systems, between operators and coordinators / technical experts: for example, an operator thatt communicates handfree with the crane operator!

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An additional advantage offered by these technologies is to facilitate coordination for security purposes.

Augmented reality in the design phase

Augmented reality (AR) consists in the enrichment of our sensory perception through various levels of information, generally processed and transmitted electronically, that would not be otherwise perceptible to the five senses.

Augmented reality was first introduced in marketing and advertising, while, today, the fields of its use are multiple, from interior design to construction.

Information that increases the perceived reality can be added on computer screens (or other devices, such as smartphone, tablet, smart glass), through a webcam able to recognize special markers (AR Tag), which are immediately overlaying additional content such as video, audio, 3D objects, etc., to the real image. For example, it is possible to frame an object with your mobile phone and immediately have various information on that object.

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Augmented reality in construction industry concept application for measuring dimension of steel structure.

 

Augmented reality has a variety of possible uses for interior and architectural design applications. For example, in an empty room, markers can be applied (prints with special codes) on the walls and the room can be filmed with a smartphone camera, and through a special App, shows the “final result” consisting of real walls and floors and virtual furniture objects.

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Green and eco-friendly asphalt

Since the 1960s, the construction industry began to use recycled rubber successfully, mainly from used tires, in a mixture of better quality asphalt, enhancing performance of road’s pavements and, thus, reducing material costs and landfill waste.

This practice has been extended in recent years to the use of recycled plastic, from bottles to disposable tableware.

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But plastic and rubber are not the only recycled materials that are mixed in the asphalt.

Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have shown that cigarette buttsadded in the recycled mixture can also improve the quality of the roadway while safely containing heavy metals; and, in Sydney the printer’s recycled toner is incorporated into an ecological asphalt mixture.

In Rotterdam, an attempt is being made to build a new cycle path entirely in recycled plastic bricks, similar to LEGO, that snap together.

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In the next insight: surveying drones, self-repairing concrete, robotics application and driverless vehicles on construction sites.