Use of VR/AR Technology in Engineering Poised for Growth

25 February 2021
Announcement e week 2021 2 22 2 21


Technology, as it grows, becomes a privilege. For example, the moment we become accustomed to the concept of being able to instantly see and speak to your family from around the globe, it is a seemingly insurmountable inconvenience when that technology does not happen seamlessly.

It is part of the human condition to adapt to a new normal and expect nothing less. When evaluating the pre-COVID age, we recognize how much we depended on human contact. As we adapt to the post-COVID age, we will continue to find ways to implement technology to function in a society with often limited human contact.

During the past year, it would have been difficult to imagine how we would have carried on without video conferencing platforms. The same goes for Walter P Moore and our Virtual Reality (VR) Toolset. The use of VR has become an important aspect of keeping up with design review and client communication in the work from home environment.

The pandemic has accelerated VR adoption by 10 years, according to SuperData. The significance of this is not lost as we have only just begun to find a comfort level with the hardware and software on the market. In the past, VR and augmented reality (AR) technology were advanced by military research and development. Eventually, the technology trickled down through multiple industries to find its resting point in the consumer’s household. Typically, those consumers are early-adopters and enthusiasts of technology, but that has seen a shift during the pandemic. For example, VR hardware known as the Quest 2, sold over 1 million units in the fourth quarter of 2020, according to SuperData, quickly surpassing its predecessor in monthly active users. This causes a disruption in the primary consumer base for VR that will prioritize additional investment into the industry.

VR has been described as an exponential, disruptive technology. It has already seen its exponential rise and its subsequent fall and rest in a comfortable, sustainable place in society. VR will not be going away anytime soon.

How Will Technology Grow?
From our perspective, VR and AR technology will combine into a single unit with different modes. The VR mode completely occludes the physical world and immerses the user in digital content. Using the same device with a pass-through mode will allow the user to view the physical world with the digital content overlaid with what we now refer to as AR. This device will likely be wearable, perhaps as glasses that are lightweight and operated through a mobile device, by tether at first, and eventually wireless.

What Does This Mean for Engineering?
Just as iPads became commonplace on the job site, VR hardware will be as well. The divide between construction and design will be a memory of the previous generation’s antiquated technology.

A future with this sort of hardware creates more powerful software. Ideally, a pinpoint accurate Simultaneous Localization and Mapping algorithm will allow engineers millimeter-accurate digital content pinning to the physical world. Engineers will be able to compare the design intent to the as-built immediately by peering through their hardware to jump into the virtual world with the flip of a switch of the same hardware. While the events of 2020 were less than desirable, they will likely serve as a catalyst for these types of technological advances.

WPM Technology specializes in IT Managed Services, Software Development, Virtual Reality, and BIM Project Coordination. 

Stay updated on our latest insights, news, events, advancements, and successes we’ve achieved with our clients.