British builders use augmented reality goggles to speed up work

David Mitchell, who says he 'learned to walk' on building sites, hopes to revolutionise construction using holograms

British builders use augmented reality goggles to speed up work

David Mitchell, who says he 'learned to walk' on building sites, hopes to revolutionise construction using holograms

David Mitchell, who says he 'learned to walk' on building sites, hopes to revolutionise construction using holograms.

Builders and architects in the UK are being given augmented reality goggles in a bid to help them improve their work. 

A start-up supplying construction sites with safety helmets featuring augmented reality visors has raised millions of pounds from investors including Amadeus Capital and early backers of Deliveroo.

XYZ Reality, founded by former builder David Mitchell, is developing a set of augmented reality goggles attached to a safety helmet fit for building sites that allow contractors to view schematics and building plans in real time through holographic images.

The start-up, founded in 2016 but only just revealing its technology, has raised £5m from Amadeus Capital, the venture fund founded by Arm pioneer Hermann Hauser, and Hoxton Ventures, an early investor in food delivery company Deliveroo and cyber firm Darktrace.

Mr Mitchell’s company is hoping to revamp the way builders and architects work, removing the centuries old process of designing buildings with 2D paper plans and using 3D augmented reality instead.

Builders and site managers would be able to put on one of the start-up’s headsets, its “HoloSite” technology, which show a 3D representation of how building work is progressing. 

From this, they can see where new installations need to go, where errors are being made, and if a “clash” is likely to occur. This means sites can be managed more efficiently with less margin for error.

In a normal building process, such clashes are often spotted too late, meaning they need to be stripped out days or weeks after they were built. In megaprojects, these delays can cost up to 11pc of project costs averaging £70m per megaproject.

The starkest examples of such inefficiencies in the construction sector are projects such as HS2, which has skyrocketed in cost to £106bn before the project has even begun.

On smaller sites, the start-up estimates saving projects hundreds of thousands of pounds over the lifetime of projects.

Innovations like augmented reality have been around for several years, where virtual images are projected over the real world using high tech goggles or a smartphone screen. But real world applications, beyond consumer applications, have been slow to take-off.

XYZ Reality hopes its specific use case can save money for companies quickly. It is already being tested on construction sites and has been used in a major data centre project.

Mr Mitchell, who worked on projects including the Shard and Battersea Power Station, said: “My father was a contractor and I basically learned to walk on a building site.  

“The bottleneck in construction is the 2D design. Up to 20pc of construction costs are wasted in this process. Our vision is to build from holograms using HoloSite, from building to validation.

“With HoloSite, we can prevent errors happening in the first place.”

Nick Kingsbury a partner at Amadeus, said, “Construction is a sector that’s ripe for radical innovation. This technology has the potential to revolutionise how the construction industry sets out and validates its work.”

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