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How can Metaverse Change the Construction Industry? The new reality for AEC businesses.


It’s impossible to avoid seeing stories, conversations, and heated debates about the future of the Internet and a bold new world known simply as the “Metaverse“.

Consider having a meeting with project stakeholders from all over the world to discuss the status of a new building that is about to be constructed, resolve any issues, and plan the next steps. When the meeting begins, everyone dons a virtual reality headset and is transported to a virtual conference table where digital clones of themselves are viewing a Building Information Modeling (BIM) virtual rendering of the completed project.

Virtual attendees can take a walk-through site visit of the actual project thanks to a set of 360-degree cameras.

Does this take you to a possibility in the coming future?

Metaverse has just laid the foundation for this extended reality.

What is Metaverse?

The term “metaverse” was recently coined by Meta (the new corporate brand that includes Facebook, Messenger, Oculus, Instagram, and WhatsApp). The Metaverse is a 3D version of the internet that represents a virtual universe that can be experienced in the same way as the real world.

The metaverse, according to the loudest voices in the room, will redefine virtually every activity that humans currently engage in. The CEO of Meta (formerly known as Facebook), Mark Zuckerberg, has staked his company’s entire future in this new world. Millions of dollars are changing hands daily as the latest cryptocurrency projects boom and bust, as Silicon Valley investors pour money into what they’re calling Web 3.0—a decentralized, user-driven version of the Internet.

When asked is there a difference between “the internet” and “the metaverse”? Mark Zuckerberg counter-questioned, “What’s the difference between peering through a window and actually being there right in the moment together?”

The recent generation of “connected devices” is evolving into more multi-sensory forms like augmented reality glasses, virtual reality headsets, and more, with a focus on 3D immersion, a sense of physical presence, and interactivity with our real world.

The metaverse transforms content from the internet into 3D immersive environments that can be shared and interacted with by multiple users using the latest “connected devices” (often taking physical form as avatars.) Here’s where you can learn more about Extended Reality (XR).

Why Metaverse should be taken seriously by the AEC Industry?

In general, the A/E/C industry has a much lower profit margin in the global economy than other industrial sectors, so it must take advantage of every technological innovation available to boost productivity. Artificial intelligence, smart automation, and robotics are commonly used in other industries, resulting in higher productivity rates. The metaverse, in my opinion, will provide a more productive environment for project collaboration.

The metaverse will be most useful to engineers, designers, and architects to enhance collaboration. Transitioning from the traditional office-based setup, as we’ve had over the last two years of the pandemic, augmented and virtual reality can be extremely useful. Engineers can use VR and AR to communicate with clients, display models remotely, and reduce travel time. Virtual reality collaboration is far more powerful and valuable than a Zoom call.

Past technological advancements have proved that the Construction industry is among the slow adapters and still catching up while other industries are already milking the technology.

It is high time AEC leaders should put their best foot forward and be the early movers.

The trick is AEC industry should rather focus on virtual & augmented reality (VR/AR) than the more ambiguous “metaverse” which has unlimited possibilities.

Game-Changing Possibilities for the AEC Industry in Metaverse

Every important asset in the AEC industry’s daily work, 3D models, collaboration, data visualization, project management, and web apps are brought into a shared physical space where we can interact in the metaverse. Instant 3D massing, asset manipulation, interacting with building layers, and BIM data on a virtual clipboard are some examples.

The metaverse is only a few clicks away from all of your standard work tools. Direct integrations with collaboration platforms like The Wild and IrisVR allow you to bring your work from Navisworks into shared spaces that can be accessed from anywhere.

Furthermore, these platforms’ integrations, such as Autodesk Construction Cloud, ensure that your work is always up to date, whether you’re working on a desktop or in virtual reality. With the latest Autodesk updates, changes will always synchronize to immersive experiences.

Top 5 Benefits of Metaverse for the AEC Industry

Here are a few examples of how VR and AR in the metaverse have completely changed our industry’s workflows:

  • Unmatched Collaboration – Virtual reality allows AEC teams and clients to collaborate from any time or location in the world, resulting in fewer meetings, less business travel, and faster approvals.
  • Design Development & Prototyping – Working through the design process of a new product, building or bridge becomes a lot easier when you can hold it in your hands without having to spend the time, money, or materials to build a physical mockup. Volkswagen created the Nivus, a subcompact SUV for the Latin American market, entirely with virtual prototypes. During the pandemic, the company’s designers were able to work safely, prototype faster, complete the design in under a year, and drastically cut costs without sacrificing quality.
  • Better Visualization for All – With Metaverse you can test every option in a lifelike context to ensure you’ll land on the right version together, allowing for co-creation and shorter design cycles, whether you’re reviewing site facades with AR or tweaking materials for clients.

All the stakeholders can view and agree on how the project would eventually look like and to ensure that the finished product matches their vision without the need for costly rework, delays, or change orders.

  • Bigger Better BIM – Building information modeling (BIM) is a modernization of traditional CAD methods. With robust digital twins that replicate a physical asset and can add an incredible level of detail, VR takes it a step further.

This is possibly the area of the VR world with the most activity for the engineering and construction industries. Digital twins are the logical next step in the CAD/plan evolution, allowing for a more complete picture of existing bridges, buildings, and even cityscapes to be created. Leaders in the development of digital twin applications include Unity Software, Bentley Systems, and Cupix. Unity and Hyundai collaborated to create a digital twin of a major auto plant.

VR offers full life-cycle coordination, from immersive issue tracking to BIM/VDC inspection and layer visibility settings.

  • Marketing – A virtual reality presentation is far superior to a PowerPoint presentation. A fully immersive virtual presentation enthralls viewers in the project from start to finish. Virtual reality is a surefire way to capture an audience’s attention in a presentation.

VR/AR enables you to create full-sensory presentations that appeal to all learning styles, attracting new clients, and speeding projects through the approval process.

Metaverse Challenge for the AEC Industry

As mentioned earlier, new technologies are slow to be embraced by the industry. The A/E/C industry has traditionally been a follower, adopting technologies that have already proven their worth in other settings. Even though modern drone technology and equipment have been in development and use since the 1980s, the use of drones for data collection on construction sites is a relatively new trend in recent years. Another example is the digital transformation that the AEC industry is still chasing.

Although there are several reasons for the slowdown, one of the most significant is that adopting and implementing new technologies is typically costly and risky. Because construction companies have a low-profit margin, a poorly implemented or inappropriate new technology could cause a major financial setback if not outright bankruptcy. This is especially true in the A/E/C industry, where many small businesses lack the financial resources to invest in new technology.

However, to keep up with changing client expectations, and evolving talent pool, AEC and VDC teams will need to embrace work in the metaverse to beat the fierce competition that is already leveraging the metaverse’s ability to multiply their productivity in sharing ideas.

Once you get past the exaggeration about the metaverse used by the tech and crypto crowd, it’s clear that engineers and designers can use virtual and augmented reality to improve their workflows and teamwork, serve clients more effectively, and design better-finished products. Engineers who commit to learning the ins and outs of virtual reality, a still-developing technology, will position themselves as leaders in their fields and companies.

There are still advancements to be made before the metaverse is something that engineers can use daily, but engineers should be aware of its potential and begin taking baby steps to understand it and gradually introduce it into their work environments.

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