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Innovation Forecast: Prepare for future 'Tech Divide'

Innovation Forecast: Prepare for future 'Tech Divide'

by LAUREN HASEGAWA

Today we’re seeing a lot of advancements when it comes to adopting new technologies onsite, and many companies are moving towards running fully paperless jobsites. However, while some leaders are adapting quickly, others are finding it more difficult to make the jump. The threat of this growing technological divide makes right now a more important time than ever for construction professionals to pay attention to emerging trends in technology and ideate around how these trends can help in the industry.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the top emerging trends in construction that will be important to pay attention to in 2015. These trends are explored in further detail in the free eBook “Where We’re Headed: Construction Technology Trends for 2015”.

Device convergence: 'phablets' to replace tablets on-site

A phablet (Wikimedia Commons)

A phablet (Wikimedia Commons)

A phablet is a smartphone with a screen that is intermediate in size between that of a typical smartphone and a tablet computer (phone + tablet = phablet). In 2013, phablet sales accounted for 1/4 of all smartphone sales (Deloitte TMT Predictions) and with Apple’s recent launch of the large iPhone 6 Plus, this number is expected to keep growing. Construction professionals have been struggling for the past few years over whether they should deploy tablets such as the iPad onsite due to the large screen size, or invest in company smartphones which allow for better collaboration. The struggle is possibly coming to an end with the introduction of phablet devices that provide the best of both worlds.

Augmented reality, wearables will boost BIM, VDC use

Google Glass (Wikimedia Commons)

Google Glass (Wikimedia Commons)

Augmented reality technologies, such as Google Glass, allow the user to see a digital image beside or on top of their view of the world. The use of these technologies in construction has the potential to make virtual design and construction and the use of BIM more accessible on-site.Using GPS already present in most augmented reality technologies, the user could sync their location data to a BIM model. In doing so, they would have the ability to see the 3D virtual view of the construction overlaid on the real-world view of the jobsite with the click of a button. An interesting area to keep an eye on are technologies that make BIM data easier to manipulate for non-BIM experts via one-click options and user-friendly design.

Near-field communications will transform 'tagging'

An example of how NFC can be used. (Flickr)

An example of how NFC can be used. (Flickr)

NFC, or near-field communications is a secure form of data exchange that allows data to be transferred from physical tags to NFC-enabled devices. The technology is frequently discussed in relation to mobile payments (tap to pay and pay from your phone). This technology was just released as a part of all new iPhone 6’s and is already present on many Android and Windows devices.As NFC begins to grow as a popular form of data exchange we can expect to see many uses for it in construction especially with materials tracking, prefabrication and workforce management. For example, NFC can be used to track prefabricated sections of large structures as they arrive onsite. Tracking these prefabricated materials can help quickly identify if an incorrect section has been delivered, or if parts are missing prior to installation — saving time and labor costs.

Each time a new technology is introduced to the world, it may have relevant applications in the construction industry. It is by examining emerging technologies and assessing their merit within the industry that we are able to continue the process of innovation. What seems like a stretch of the imagination today, may well be the reality of tomorrow.

Lauren Hasegawa (Bridgit)

Lauren Hasegawa (Bridgit)

The author is a structural engineer with a background in concrete restoration. She is an active mentor to young women in construction and in 2013 was named to "The Next 36", a nonprofit dedicated to helping grow Canada's long-term prosperity by fast-tracking the growth of talented young innovators. Hasegawa has always had an interest in how new technologies can improve efficiency and productivity in our industry. With this passion, she founded Bridgit, a mobile and web communication platform in 2012. 

Lauren Hasegawa will be speaking at Speak & Connect on November 6, 2014 here at Burnham Works! Click here for tickets and details.

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