I recently had an opportunity to attend one of Bentley Systems’ CONNECTION events, and one of the overarching themes was clear to me. Looking beyond the obvious benefits of BIM (building information modeling), there was another trend that took center stage: connected technologies.

From drones to augmented reality to Microsoft’s HoloLens, I sat in number sessions that identified the value of connected technologies for construction.

Case in point: Matt Simon of HNTB sees great potential in AR (augmented reality), as it enables construction companies to use the technology in conjunction with tablets to see what is under the surface of roads, ultimately meaning utilities don’t have to be dug up. (He, however, does not want to have to walk around site in those ‘googles,’ but that is another story.)

Along the same line, Microsoft HoloLens came up a few times throughout the two days. Microsoft, which has been a partner of Bentley’s for three decades, has brought the technology to market to improve virtual reality. While the uses are vast, the company has partnered with the likes of Bentley and Trimble to bring the technology specifically to construction. I suspect we will hear more about Microsoft HoloLens in the months to come.

Building on the concept of virtual reality is wearables. The talk of wearable devices for construction has been around since before Apple even announced its first smartwatch, but the true value has yet to be seen. How can wearables help construction? Visualization, safety, and remote jobsite walkthroughs, just to name a few. But I personally think the true potential of these devices have yet to be discovered.

Another topic that took center stage at Bentley’s CONNECTION was drones. Starting with Bentley’s COO Malcolm Walter’s keynote opening the event to multiple sessions taking place throughout the two days, drones quickly became a common thread, tying the days together. In fact, Walter was so bold to say everyone will eventually have drones on their construction jobsite.

While I don’t disagree, I do think there are a number of hurdles for construction companies that are looking to UAV (unmanned aerial vehicles) to help model on projects. Chiefly, and most widely discussed, are the legislative hurdles, which are starting to be addressed in Washington.

However, another challenge many construction companies might not even be considering yet are the cybersecurity threats associated with drones. How can you secure your drones? This is a topic we plan to address at our upcoming Constructech Technology Day conference on August 27 in the Chicagoland area.

As I mentioned earlier, I believe the true potential of all these connected technologies has yet to be discovered. I think the construction industry has just begun to scratch the surface for what can be done with augmented reality, wearables, holographics, and drones. The best is certainly yet to come.

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