Shaun Farrell: Augmented Reality; Great or Gimmick?


BIM Show Live 2017 is showcasing the use of technology in the race to digitise construction processes and delivery. With the rise in the use of Augmented Reality, Shaun Farrell from Turner & Townsend looks at the practical side of this alternative environment and questions are we wise to use Augment Reality in our design and build phases, or are we simply jumping on yet another digital bandwagon.

Shaun will deliver his talks on Day 2 of BIM Show Live, Thursday 2 February at 2.30pm.

Augmented reality already has a place in our everyday lives; the football match score in the top left of your TV screen, the latest Pokémon Go craze, stargazing apps allowing you to stitch together constellations, and sports tickets “coming to life” when viewed through your smartphone. Augmented reality is the laying of computer generated content over the real world so both are viewed at the same time, as opposed to virtual reality which is an entirely computer generated environment that replaces the real world.

It is hard to say when augmented reality was first thought up but it was certainly imagined in science fiction and is now rapidly becoming science fact.

With the advent of cameras being connected to the devices and machines that we use every day, a whole new question was posed. What can machines see or, more to the point, what can machines help us to see? Rather than accept what our eyes see of reality, why not augment our vision to change how we might see the world?

The military have implemented augmented reality in the form of heads up displays in their aircraft. Using the glass canopy and pilot’s helmet, key information overlaying external sensor data can be fed directly to where the operator can see it and provide real time feedback.

So how might this apply to every day applications in the construction industry? BIM provides access to a vast array of data, both implicit and implied. We are seeing more and more sensors, ranging from visual to environmental, being applied to the construction site. Imagine combining these with your BIM data and turning it into something that can be placed between the user and the real world – either a device, such as smartphones, tablets, or fixed monitoring locations like site huts or plant windscreens, or on a wearable, such as the DAQRI helmet. Will this help or hinder construction? What might be the risks of introducing augmented reality in these environments? How will this aspect of BIM help both clients and the supply chain to better understand one another?

I will be exploring current and future applications of augmented reality and their impacts in my “Augmented Reality: Great or Gimmick“ talk at BIM Show Live on 2 February 2017 at 14:30.


Shaun Farrell, Associate Director, Turner & Townsend

BIM Show Live, Day 2, 2.30pm