Enhanced construction solutions thanks to 5G

5G networks are a key technological lever for developing new solutions around mobile, augmented technicians and workers — particularly in the construction industry.

“Making things easier in the construction and public works sector via an application that combines BIM and AR.”

The skills of field workers are set to grow thanks to the digital solutions made possible by 5G. The concept of augmented technicians/workers, which has already been explored in relation to industry, is to be applied to other sectors and trades.

Making 5G work for construction players

The potential for innovation here is considerable, and can be tapped into through many different ecosystem players, from digital companies to academic institutions. Students at ESIGELEC (École supérieure d’ingénieurs en génie électrique — a prestigious school of engineering in Rouen) recently came up with an original project as part of the Innojam hackathon challenge, organised by the school with support from partners like Orange. Taking the proposal to reflect on how 5G could be used to transform the mobile workspace, they devised a solution for the construction and public works sector that combined Building Information Modelling (BIM) and augmented reality (AR). “The idea is basically to make work easier in this sector’s companies”, explained Gauthier Lafosse, a fifth-year student at ESIGELEC. “With building sites becoming increasingly digital, we designed a BIM application full of value-added features. Aimed at specific occupations such as site supervisors and site foremen, this solution is geared towards simplifying certain tasks, boosting productivity and facilitating collaboration.”

A combination of BIM, AR and streaming

Available on Android smartphones and tablets, this app integrates several technological building blocks. Users can download BIM plans from the cloud to then consult them in the field and edit them in real time, taking advantage of 5G network performance in terms of throughput. This feature is enhanced by an AR component that we developed using Google’s Depth API, enabling users to project files into the real world and thereby identify any possible gaps. Finally, this solution is connected to a streaming server so that a live view of the surroundings and the object being projected can be shared with a remote user. This option becomes extremely valuable when remote expert support is required. The very low level of latency required to implement these features means 5G once again proves key. And with time, this solution could be developed even further, to be used, for example, in conjunction with augmented reality glasses.

Supporting all new 5G projects

This project illustrates the burst of creativity unleashed by the deployment of the new generation of mobile networks. New services are being designed, tested and deployed — a process that counts on the support of major players like Orange. “This project from the ESIGELEC students is focused on a sector, namely construction and public works, where the concept of the augmented technician is only just starting to be explored”, explained Anne-Charlotte Belon, 5G Innovation Senior Marketing Manager at Orange, and Olivier Wioland, Mobile Network Marketing Manager at Orange Business Services, both of whom sponsored and guided the students. “By combining the strengths of 5G with those of other technologies such as the cloud and AR, the students have taken a truly entrepreneurial approach and their project is set to provide a robust and comprehensive solution to real business needs. More generally, Orange supports the whole ecosystem of 5G innovation, thanks to its network of Orange 5G Labs in particular. These platforms provide start-ups, entrepreneurs, developers and many others with the technical resources and expertise they need to experiment and move their projects forward.”

After first being launched on the Châtillon site in February, 2021 will see 5G Labs opening in six cities across France, as close as possible to local ecosystems.

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