Construction in the Metaverse – Is the Future Closer Than We Think? Overheard in the Big Room

construction metaverse

Imagine inspecting a 50-story building, inside and out. Walk through a gleaming marble lobby and ride an elevator to a penthouse that looks down on the sprawling cityscape below. Tour a sample hallway, office suite, apartment. Stand beside windows, fiddle with fireplaces, turn on taps. And do it all before you even break ground  on that building. 

This is the power of the metaverse. A combination of internet-based technologies with VR headsets and haptic hardware, it is a long-held science fiction dream come true. Now we can step out of actual reality and into a whole universe of virtual reality, based on everything from real life to our wildest dreams. 

Naturally, this has the potential to change industries across the board, and construction is no exception. That future, however, is still very much in the planning stages. What it will look like is something only the best of us can even guess. What could this nebulous idea mean for the construction industry? 

The Big Room: A Place for Big Thoughts 

We recently asked construction professionals to share their thoughts in The Big Room, an online community designed for you to collaborate, ideate, and grow with other construction professionals and with Autodesk Construction Cloud. It’s a place for you to enhance your industry knowledge, converse with Autodesk enthusiasts around the world, and get recognized for the work you do, day-in and day-out. Whether you’re brand-new here or a seasoned veteran, you have a voice. 

As part of our constant effort to track the present and future of the building industry, we would like to introduce Overheard in the Big Room, a regular content series where we will be sharing some of the hottest conversations taking place. We encourage you to join at any time! 

In the meantime, back to the metaverse. Does it have game-changing potential? Should we rush out and buy a pair of haptic gloves, like, yesterday? Are we in for a surprise if we don’t immediately rush to adapt? These are questions to which we’d all love answers … so we asked. 

What Role Will the Metaverse Play in Construction? The Construction Industry Weighs In 

As with all new technology, the metaverse is making waves and creating factions. Many believe that the world is about to get very meta, and the next few decades will see us move into and inhabit our online “second lives” like second skins. Others think it’s too soon to tell, while a third group doesn’t see any real impact coming down the pike. 

We asked your colleagues and peers whether they believed the metaverse and its products would play a large role in the construction industry to come, and if so, what that might look like. Their answers fell into the yes, maybe and no categories. Read on to see. 

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The Future Is Coming, and It Looks Very Meta 

The largest survey group definitely believed the metaverse would infiltrate the construction industry, and probably pretty soon to boot. Factors such as profit potential, public demand and downright coolness all led them to answer in the affirmative: meta is coming. 

A means of making money 

“If there is a way for people to make money (and there always is), then it has a future.” - Spencer Pursley, Critical Environment Engineer at QTS 

Virtual visualization 

“VR as it is a way to experience a virtual space and I think this aspect can be very useful in the construction industry!” - Iloufar Monzavi, Intern Architect AIBC at AECOM 

Demand drives development 

“As long as there is demand, digital development will be viable.” - an architect 

A whole ecosystem to work with 

“VR and the metaverse ecosystem will undoubtedly impact the construction industry in many ways.” - a director

Looking ahead enables smart investing 

“This is the way that the world is going, and I would say it is not specific to construction. People like to see things before they are real to give them a sense of certainty in what they are looking to invest in.” - Steve Rollo, National BIM/VDC Manager at Graham Construction & Engineering LP 

Look out, Alice … it’s already here 

“We are deep down the rabbit hole on this, with currently a dozen Oculus Quest 2 headsets in the hands of clients, our design team and construction leads. It is already impacting our business.” - a design build technology director

Bidding and designing made easy 

“It definitely will have a future for the construction industry. It would help and improve the bidding and designing processes.” - an assistant project manager

That’s a Hard Maybe, Folks 

Not everyone is so convinced that the metaverse will play a huge role in upcoming pivots in the construction industry. Some are on the fence … or peering through it to see what changes take place in coming years. 

Worth keeping tabs on 

“I personally think that, though the metaverse will change things around us, it is too early to say how it impacts the AEC industry. I think our AR/VR/MR will most certainly be integrated with the metaverse and will add more features to achieve effective collaboration, but the jury is out because the metaverse itself is still developing day by day. We must see how it develops and how we can use it for the benefit of the AEC Industry. It is certainly something worth keeping tabs on.” - a senior executive

The potential of stories and scenarios 

“Like others have said, I think it’s too early to tell the potential. Right now, I personally think things like NFTs are just a fad and don’t have a long-term vision. The metaverse, on the other hand, I think has some potential. Take a look at the gaming community and how there are endless worlds of stories and sceneries, even going back 20 years. Now gamers can be immersed in that world, and with an integration of construction and gaming, you can easily get actual buildings incorporated into the spaces. For example, stadiums, historical buildings, or even general office buildings. Maybe that crosses into the value of NFTs? I’m not sure, but I do think the metaverse is here to stay in some form.” -a BIM/VDC manager

A slow build 

“It’s hard to say how exactly, but it seems like technology creeps into almost every aspect of our lives as it advances. My guess is that the metaverse’s impact probably won’t be apparent any time too soon, though.” - a project assistant

The Metaverse in Construction? Probably Not 

Lastly, there are folks who don’t see an apparent use for the metaverse’s promises. It endangers privacy and may prove too tricky to integrate with construction. 

Design could thrive 

“The metaverse (at the stage at which it is now) may have a space in the design arena, but not so much in construction, I don’t think. The VR/AR that we already have is capable of showcasing virtual mockups. Maybe the metaverse can make it more interactive, enabling people to operate a door or open up a ceiling access hatch and see what’s planned for the overhead space. Or maybe it would make it easier for laypeople to use and interact with a BIM model of their future building/house space. It’s too early to say … but I’ll come back to this thread after a few years!” - a BIM/VDC manager 

No thanks, we’ll keep our privacy 

“I don’t think it will. Customers will want to keep their information of projects private. Incorporating that into the metaverse will raise a lot of data security concerns.” - a construction coordinator 

Keep Tabs on Cutting-Edge Construction Topics with Overheard in the Big Room 

Want to stay updated on all things building in the modern age? Overheard in the Big Room is the best place to do that. Monitor the conversation, contribute your own thoughts and keep the ideas flowing in our premier forum for construction professionals. From topics such as what social impact means in construction to insight into the future housing shortage, we want to hear what you have to say, so come join the conversation today! 

Grace Ellis

As Manager of Content Marketing Strategy at Autodesk and Editor in Chief of the Digital Builder Blog, Grace has nearly 15 years of experience creating world-class content for technology firms. She has been working within the construction technology space for the last 6+ years and is passionate about empowering industry professionals with cutting-edge tools and leading strategies that improve the quality of their jobs and lives.