And finally… Virtual reality gaming set to make construction a safer place

Immersive Hybrid Reality training by Heriot-Watt University
Immersive Hybrid Reality training by Heriot-Watt University

Virtual reality may not be new technology but for construction its potential is not only being developed to design and construct better buildings but now explored as training to save lives and reduce injury.

Utilising gaming technology a ‘hyper-immersive’ system developed by University of New South Wales called The Situation Engine is exposing students to site accidents by delivering a ‘cognitive shock’ that they claim provides a learning experience no classroom can match. The idea, which recently won a Premier Innovation in Education and Training Award, from the Chartered Institute of Building will feature at the first Accelerate to Innovate event.

The event is a joint initiative between BRE and the CIOB which connects innovators with industry experts to help accelerate wider take-up in the industry of their ideas.

“No one in the industry wants good ideas sitting on a shelf. This initiative is not a competition it’s a collaboration between innovators and those who can help open doors to the wider industry,” said Saleem Akram director at the CIOB.

Joining the Situation Engine at the event is a team from Heriot-Watt University who developed a system for tracking physiological activities through various sensors and devices, networked around the body. The Activity Tracking and Body Area Network (AT-BAN) innovation detects and analyses Musculoskeletal risks by capturing accurate physical activity in real time providing an early warning for construction workers.

Also from Heriot-Watt University are the team behind the Immersive Hybrid Reality (iHR) training environment. This technology integrates 3D and real world environments so that construction trainees can see their hands, tools and materials within any virtual environment related to their training. It is currently being piloted with roofers in a housing scenario and tower crane operatives.

The Accelerate to Innovate takes place tomorrow at Building Research Establishment (BRE) in Watford. In total eight innovators from the UK and overseas will get together with a team of high-calibre mentors from the industry who will coach teams on how to progress their ideas, technically and commercially, to gain wider take-up in the industry.

Innovators selected to participate will be paired with experienced mentors from the industry, including Dr. Rennie Chadwick, innovation and performance director at contractor Osborne, senior representatives from leading Tier 1 contractors and intellectual property and BIM experts.

Mentors will coach innovators on how to strengthen their proposal, and pitch their ideas to investors, backers and future clients in the construction sector.

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