Next Generation Uses in AR/VR Technology
As an Emerging Technologies Developer at Mortenson, Will Adams draws on his deep passion for the building industry to explore how the intersections of architecture, programming and new technologies can positively impact the rapidly changing construction industry. He enjoys working with clients to help them understand the possibilities of what Mortenson can do for them, create that vision, and then ultimately realize that vision through meaningful results.
As the technological revolution continues, the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industry has been experimenting with the use of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) for over 20 years. year. The uses are many – from serving as a technical tool to improve project communications/collaboration and detecting potential conflicts before they arise (saving clients money and time) to serving as a public tool that can generate enthusiasm and support for projects.
At Mortenson, a top 20 US-based builder, developer, and engineering service provider, Seattle-based Virtual Insights Group uses next-gen AR/VR tools in a variety of ways. From creating in-house quality and safety training environments for our staff to developing fully immersive and collaborative virtual environments, most recently for the billion-dollar Climate Pledge Arena project in Seattle, where our team empowered project, sales/marketing, and property teams to review designs, host tours, and create amazing fan experiences before and during project construction.
Another essential use of immersive virtual reality is in the design of healthcare facilities, where surgeons, nurses and equipment operators can all meet simultaneously in virtual operating rooms to detect inefficiencies and clashes before the start of construction, helping to ensure a highly efficient design while avoiding costly future remodels. .
Mortenson also works with customers to easily createa public engagement tool accessible in virtual reality to help gain buy-in from community stakeholders by showing – and not just saying (as was once the norm) – the long-term benefits of complex projects or controversial.
One of Mortenson’s most recent projects involves working with Clean Water Services, an Oregon-based water resource management service, on a sanitary and regional stormwater management project. The two-year Cedar Mill Creek improvement project will replace a 40-plus-year-old sanitary pipe that runs through the popular Tualatin Hills Nature Park, a 220-acre nature and wildlife preserve in Beaverton, Oregon that includes trails, wetlands, streams, ponds and meadows.
Although necessary for the long-term health of the community, the construction project will result in two years of disruption to the experience of visitors to the natural park and major disruptions to the natural environment of the site, including the closure of public paths, major tree cutting and earthworks. to access and replace the sanitary sewer pipe.
Given the extent of the disturbance and the recovery time required to restore the reserve to its former natural glory, Clean Water Services wanted to assure all community stakeholders that not only was the improvement project necessary, but that it was It was also an opportunity to make many upgrades and upgrades to the reserve. swamps.
Working closely with Clean Water Services, Mortenson worked to create an immersive virtual reality web platform for the Cedar Mill Creek Improvement Project that allows stakeholders to see a 360 degree view of the park and areas wet in a realistic environment accessible to anyone with a computer.
“Our goal is to find new technologies and develop them to help our customers succeed”
One of the biggest challenges in the outreach process was communicating to public stakeholders that the relatively short-term pain was well worth the long-term gain. The solution – through carefully created virtual reality – was to visually communicate why the project was needed, the improvements to the wetlands, what key areas along the trails would look like during construction and, most importantly, what point these areas were better. would look in the future.
Clean Water Services Project Manager, Jadene Stensland, PE, said, “Having a visual self-training tool is helpful to help the community envision project construction activities, including new pipes and sidewalks, hundreds of flowers, flowering shrubs and new trees, as well as understanding the longlong-term strategy.
Visitors to the platform’s homepage are greeted with a 360-degree augmented reality view of the entire wetlands, which viewers can explore from different heights and vantage points. Additionally, viewers can select certain ground locations along the trails where construction work is taking place. From this perspective, stakeholders can click on the FAQ links to learn more about why the improvements are being made in each section and what benefits they will bring to the nature park.
Website visitors can also switch between views displayed during construction, two years after construction, and ten years after construction, helping stakeholders see for themselves how this project will protect water quality. , will create a rich habitat for wildlife and improve the visitor experience over time.
“Our goal is to find new technologies and develop them to help our customers succeed. The key to a successful VR environment, especially when used as a tool for community engagement, is to help improve the “educating audiences and reducing friction. An environment that’s too complicated or difficult to learn breaks immersion and the user’s willingness to engage,” said Will Adams, VR developer at Mortenson. “That’s why we chose to use a web-based VR environment accessible to anyone with a computer.”