Are ‘e-skin’ and ‘wearables’ the future of building property portfolio?

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In Photo: Can you imagine a moment in the future when—beyond the design unveiling of actual properties that developers showcase—it’s the construction that becomes one of the most talked-about aspects of a property?

YOU’VE probably watched a ton of sci-fi movies and television series (hello Black Mirror!), enough to keep your curious minds flowing with ideas about what kind of digital technology may be in store for us in the next couple of decades.

Can you imagine a moment in the future when—beyond the design unveiling of actual properties that developers showcase—it’s the construction that become one of the most talked-about aspects of a property? Where architects exchange ideas and engineers give out instructions to workers via the Internet in real time? Where laborers finish double the amount of job in half the time, thanks to smart body suits?

Months ago I’ve written about how a bunch of today’s real-estate developers have been adopting virtual-reality (VR) technology to present their portfolio to their clientele. By simulating locations, spaces, or even actual unit features via VR property tours, real-estate sellers are now able to create totally immersive experiences that provide clients with an accurate picture of the property they are selling. Now, homebuyers and property hunters can explore properties they intend to rent or buy even without physically visiting the venue, saving them the effort of booking trips that may sometimes underwhelm them.

Exoskeleton suits can provide a huge boost to construction and property firms by “enhancing human power and protecting from injuries associated with heavy lifting and repetitive movements“.

“Businesses must evolve their existing mobile-first strategy to now include the wearable revolution and deliver perceived value to the consumer in an experiential manner,” said Deborah Bothun, PwC’s US advisory Entertainment, Media & Communications leader. “Relevance is the baseline, but then there is a consumer list of requirements to enable interaction with the brand in a mobile and wearable environment.”

Opening up a new dimension

In other countries, even construction companies have started utilizing wearable technology to their advantage. Foreign construction firms are already using the likes of augmented reality (AR) using Business Information Modelling (BIM) cloud storage, apps and smartphones, and other forms of wearable tech as “a logical next step in improving workflow efficiency and productivity,” according to Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) Senior Project Manager Ashley Perry. Through augmented reality (combining computer-generated enhancements with a portion of reality), project managers, designers, and engineers can now exchange ideas and feedback in real time.

“That immediacy means more focus can be put on iterative design and the tangible aspects of assembly,” Perry said. “An electrical engineer could see cables behind a wall, for example, using technology such as Microsoft’s HoloLens.

Learning from other sectors

“Businesses must evolve their existing mobile-first strategy to now include the wearable revolution and deliver perceived value to the consumer in an experiential manner,” a PwC expert says.

One idea that real-estate players can also adopt is how the health and medical sector use electronic skin technology (“e-skin”).

This specific type of tech may include the use of minute, ultra-thin and flexible devices, such as sensors and microchips, specifically for “monitoring and medical applications that include sensing and measuring anatomical activities”. Employees and workers, for example, can wear micro-electronics-embedded wristbands to interact with other people in real time, either through VR or AR. JLL also suggests that this same technology can be used to create GPS-embedded utility vests that can warn workers about possible work hazards or allow project managers to “track movements and optimize workflow”.

In the future, e-skin technology may be used to enable

Apart from this, there are also other companies who are eyeing to introduce the idea of fast-tracking the pace of construction and industrial building through robotics and power-enhancing exoskeleton suits.

These bionic suits, which use a network of gears, springs and other counterweights, can provide a huge boost to construction and property firms by “enhancing human power and protecting from injuries associated with heavy lifting and repetitive movements. “The most experienced workers are in their 40s and 50s, and construction work can be onerous,” Perry added.” If you can reduce the physical impact of that work it clearly benefits both the worker and the industry.”

The technology behind this innovation, which has been popularized in recent years by Robert Downey Jr. through Marvel’s Ironman movies, is eyed to become a standard in the construction and industrial building sectors by none other than Russ Angold himself, the cofounder and chief technology officer at exoskeleton maker Ekso Bionics. It was first used as a medical breakthrough in 2012 to help disabled people, particularly those who suffer from major spinal or mobility injuries, to regain the capability to move around on their own.

These are just some of the curious and interesting ideas that are either adopted slowly or floated as viable options. The continued emergence of these cutting-edge technologies will only open more doors to enable property developers to cull more data and track analytics in real time, while also interacting and establishing a more solid rapport with potential clients.

Image Credits: World Property Journal, UK Construction Media, www.realestate.com.au