Holographic computing, iPads and data: The future of construction

The construction industry is a crucial cog in the global economy, employing millions of people around the world. With the second decade of the 21st century nearing its end, new ideas and technology are helping to drive change in the construction world.

Dean Banks is managing director for U.K. construction services at international infrastructure group Balfour Beatty. In an interview broadcast this week, he told CNBC that technology and innovation were "growing and growing" within the industry, and that Balfour Beatty had to "operate smarter" going forward to help its productivity.

On a day-to-day basis, Balfour Beatty works with a range of different suppliers and businesses to ensure the smooth running of its operations. Does technology make this easier, or harder?

"Certainly, in terms of information sharing it's going to be better... there has to be an element of trust and transparency and information that's shared," Banks said.

This, he added, needed to be balanced with data protection regulations and required the business to be sensitive with how it handled information.

New technology was, he explained, already having an impact on the ground.

To give one example, Banks said that visual decisions regarding a site could be made remotely, whereas in the past work had to be done with drawings that took time to update, and with people having to make site visits.

Another big development in the industry has been the transition from 2D to 3D visualization.

According to the Kier Group, which is involved in construction and property, among other things, modern 3D software "allows for a rapid proof-of-concept" and in the process eliminates "many of the errors encountered after using traditional design techniques."

Banks described the move from 2D to 3D as being "massive for the industry." He went on to highlight a range of new technology, including iPads and the Microsoft HoloLens, that was helping to transform working methods.

The HoloLens is a headset in which a number of components work together to allow "holographic computing." Banks said there were several positive aspects to using technology such as the HoloLens.

"If you can work smarter, and it can be a bit of fun, then people tend to adopt it," he said. "That transition from 2D to 3D brings to life the building and gives you the ability to understand the finished article and how you'll operate in that space," he went on to add.

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