We are officially living in the future. New technology emerges every day, allowing entire industries to do things they never imagined possible.
The construction industry is seeing many of these technological advancements, too — from apps that let entire teams share project data in real-time to concrete that repairs itself. Some contractors and construction workers are using new tech today, while other concepts are still in the research phase. But one thing’s for sure: All of these innovations are coming to a jobsite near you soon, and they will revolutionize the way you think, design, and build.
Let’s review some of the most interesting tech trends coming to construction.
When you think of sci-fi tech, wearables probably come to mind. There are three main types of wearables coming to construction:
- Visual: In the form of smart glasses or smart visors, this wearable will take hands-free pictures of jobsites, equipment, etc. and instantly send images to anyone for an inspection, approval, or estimate.
- Tactile: This wearable is more of an exoskeleton, or mechanized bodysuit. It will enhance a worker’s physical strength, stamina, and performance (picture Sigourney Weaver’s wearable forklift from Aliens). You might have to wait a few years for this one, though.
- Sensory: Imagine smarter versions of everyday construction attire, like vests, badges, and hardhats. They’ll be able to relay a worker’s vital signs from the field as well as signal for help if there’s been an accident.
Contractors and construction teams are moving to cloud computing. Integrated mobile technology allows them to collect, collaborate, and share all of their documents, orders, estimates, approvals, and project data in real-time, from any location, with nothing more than a smartphone or tablet. Cloud-based solutions for construction, like Viewpoint for Projects, can speed up approval processes, reduce project costs, improve quality assurance, and simplify project management by connecting every team member with every all the documentation they need.
Technology is improving building materials we’ve been using for centuries, making them stronger, safer, and more sustainable. And they’ll be coming to homes, buildings, and bridges near you soon. Here are some of our favorites:
This super-sturdy material is five times stronger than steel and twice as stiff, yet it’s only one-third the weight. It’s made from carbon strands that are thinner than a human hair, and they can be woven together to form any shape imaginable.
Concrete that can fix itself is a builder’s dream. Imagine the possibilities of autonomous infrastructure — bridges, roads, and buildings that can repair themselves without the need for humans. Several self-repairing concretes are being tested now, including one that uses electricity to activate shape-memory polymers and another that contains capsules full of epoxy resin to repair cracks.
It’s hard to believe bioplastic could actually be biocompatible and biodegradable. But it is. And it’s inexpensive, too. Bioplastic is made from discarded shrimp shells and as strong as aluminum at only half the weight.
Derived from recycled newspaper and cardboard, paper insulation is an inexpensive, sustainable, insect-resistant, and fire-retardant alternative to insulating foam sprays.
Can you imagine concrete without cement? Liquid granite might one day be cement’s sustainable replacement. It’s lightweight, has the same load-bearing strength, is fire-resistant, and made up of recycled materials.
3-D BIM modeling
Architectural illustrations and blueprints have been in use since the Egyptians built the pyramids nearly 4,500 years ago. But all that’s changing now. Drawings and sketches are being replaced by computer-generated 3-D designs that actually visualize structural engineering, steel work, ductwork, plumbing, and electrical systems. Known as Building Information Modeling (BIM), this technology is revolutionizing how homes and buildings are designed — and it’s already in use today.
Smart buildings are structures designed to be semi-autonomous, performing many day-to-day operations on their own, such as lighting, ventilation, security, and safety tests. Smart buildings constantly collect data, so they can continually improve themselves. Occupants will also be able to interact with their homes remotely. They’ll be able turn on lights, change power settings, and warm up the oven from their mobile devices.
We hope you’re as excited about the future of construction technology as we are. To discover more about how Viewpoint’s cloud-based software platforms might transform your next project, reach out to us anytime. Or see what’s new with us on Twitter and Facebook.