A Holographic Future: Comparing an AR headset to traditional construction methods
New Zealand’s construction industry has seen a profound uptake in the use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in recent years. BIM has proven to be beneficial to individuals during moments of the lifecycle of a building, but it has yet to play a significant role in the actual construction stage of a project. In recent years, researchers have become increasingly interested in the use of Augmented Reality (AR) to provide support for BIM implementation and productivity on-site. However, current research has yet to prove the effectiveness of integrating the information from the BIM model into an AR environment. With international AR applications emerging and the improvement on AR and BIM software, it has now become feasible to test the integration of these two technologies dynamically. This paper utilises recent developments in technology to provide a comparison of the effectiveness of information retrieval methods. A three-phase, mixed method experiment was conducted and evaluated over a one-year time frame in Wellington, New Zealand. By using a mixed method approach, the research gained multiple forms of data drawing on all possibilities. One phase involved a focus group with a variety of construction industry professionals exploring the use of BIM and how their teams work together to solve problems and tasks on-site. The second phase had twenty-four construction industry tradesmen randomly assigned to three control groups to complete clash detection tasks using different visualisation mediums. The control groups used either two-dimensional paper drawings, a BIM model on a laptop, or a BIM model in a Microsoft HoloLens to complete the information retrieval tasks. Following the task-based experiment, the control groups participated in a focus group to understand tradesmen’s perceptions of the different visualisation mediums and how current processes could be improved for their understanding. Each group was assessed on a usability framework model of effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction. Based on the results of the experiments and focus groups, this research can produce evidence for determining the most effective methods for information retrieval and clash detection on-site. Can AR provide a more powerful system for construction productivity and information retrieval than paper or computer-based systems? The research does not provide a detailed solution but instead demonstrates the potential marriage between AR and BIM technologies to help evolve future building processes.