When you hear the term “virtual reality” or VR, it tends to conjure up images of people wearing headsets and playing video games or experiencing things like riding a rollercoaster without ever leaving their living room. It can be difficult to image how this technology could possibly be used in industry, but as it is so new, the sky is the limit!
In addition to virtual reality, there is also augmented reality. Augmented reality or AR is slightly different in that it layers “virtual” information over real world situations, being able to either add or take away from what can be currently viewed.
As the use and development of VR and AR has exploded in the past couple years, it is slowly starting to be used for more practical applications rather than just the fun, commercial applications we know it for. It is starting to be used for surveying and engineering in order to simulate real life situations without having to use the money and resources into actually building them.
One of the best ways VR and AR can be used for surveying and engineering is as a training tool. We’re not saying that “virtual theodolite” will be coming to a games console near you any time soon, but programs have already been developed to help reinforce geomatics concepts in the field for trainee surveyors. This saves time and money in training as situations can be more easily simulated and trainees can practice without having to be out in the field.
As surveying largely deals with spatial data, it is easy to imagine how data can be overlaid in the real world in real time. If you are doing a setting out project, you could have the points overlaid on the property in real time with an augmented reality environment to show the foreman and engineers.
It can also be used as a visualization tool for clients. Imagine being able to show a visualization of data from a monitoring survey or flood risk assessment to show changes in data over time with a client out in the field! Engineers can also use virtual reality to show what a structures such as bridges would look like in situ, which can be helpful if surveyors are examining a structure for repair or a what a new build would look like.
While augmented and virtual reality aren’t widely used in by the geospatial industry yet, there is definitely the possibility that it will be used alongside other field tools in the near future.
If you’re looking for an experienced surveyor to help with your next project, get in touch (http://www.landform-surveys.co.uk/contact-us/)