Construction in the Metaverse
Updated: Jul 30, 2022
The Metaverse will impact all facets of our lives, not least our work and social lives. But it will also have a significant impact across all industries, from the extraction and production of raw material, to manufacturing, construction and service industries. Like the education, healthcare and the restaurant industries, the construction sector is likely to be impacted by the Metaverse and/or Metaverse technologies in the years to come.
Historically the construction industry has forever lagged behind other industries in its ability to ditch dated and ineffective practices, modernize itself and adopt new technologies. Back in the nineties, reports by Sir Michael Latham and Sir John Egan, titled Constructing the Team and Rethinking Construction respectively, helped to drive efficiency improvements in UK construction industry, with the latter considering how automation and efficiency methodologies of other industries, such as automotive and aerospace, could be applied to the construction sector.
So how might the Metaverse and/or Metaverse technologies impact the construction sector? From a planning and design perspective, there are immediate and obvious benefits. Back in 2016 the UK Government mandated that all publicly funded construction projects must be delivered with “fully collaborative 3D BIM”. This increased the development and use of BIM (Building Information Modelling), to create digital representations of physical infrastructure and their functional characteristics, enabling designers and building contractors to fully visualize projects, and to improve designs against cost, efficiency and sustainability targets, prior to starting construction.
Interestingly, one of the things holding back the proliferation of BIM across the construction industry has been BIM software developers proprietary data structures, which has hindered interoperability across different platforms and applications, holding back widespread adoption. This is also one of the issues holding back the realization of the metaverse. We have covered this in our Barriers to the Metaverse series, which looks at the obstacles to Metaverse realization, including open standards and interoperability.
But where from here? In the not-to-distant future, every construction site will have its own Metaverse, providing engineers with the ability to create fully-realized digital replicas of physical infrastructure that are so detailed that they will be indistinguishable from the real thing. This will enable designers to walk around their soon to be realized creations, fine-tuning and designing out issues way before they get to construction stage. And what about construction itself? The Metaverse will provide operators with a platform to control site machinery remotely - remember the all-white virtual control room in the Matrix Reloaded ? Once complete, the Metaverse will provide owners with a perfect digital replica of their asset, allowing them to operate their infrastructure in the Metaverse, provide them with a foundation for augmented reality (AR) applications, and to test future operational scenarios and associated maintenance regimes.
Ricardo Gomez Angel/Unsplash