It’s a big moment right now for virtual reality in construction. The technology has the potential to dramatically change how things are done across the built environment. There are also few bigger players in the AEC industry these days than AECOM, whose global platform could help accelerate the market’s acceptance and adoption of VR technologies.

To that end, the Taiwanese consumer electronics company HTC and AECOM recently announced a new partnership to jointly develop and extend the reach of VR tech across the construction world. The companies, which signed an MOU earlier this fall, will enter a long-term relationship that will use HTC’s Vive Focus virtual reality platform to provide designers and builders with an immersive visualization tool they can use during project planning, design, and construction.

“Virtual reality has the potential to be the biggest paradigm shift in history for architects, engineers and designers, providing incredible efficiencies and cost savings while empowering professionals to design with previously unmatched levels of precision,” AECOM’s APAC boss Sean Chiao said in a press release. “Developing these technologies into practical tools we can use is a powerful demonstration of AECOM’s relentless commitment to drive innovation for our industry and our world.”

“We are very excited to partner with the world’s leading AEC company,” said Raymond Pao, Vice President of VR New Technology for HTC, in the same press release. “We have seen enterprises using Vive for employee training, product ID design, review and showcasing in the past 18 months. With the collaboration with AECOM we now can jointly bring the AEC industry to a new era.”

HTC unveiled its Vive Focus standalone VR headset at its developer conference in China last month. The product will be the first to go into beta testing under the MOU with AECOM at a new VR laboratory in Taiwan. The lab will host future demonstrations of innovation for VR in design and construction and develop content to underscore the breadth of potential that VR can offer to the industry. HTC will also create a special service portal for the Focus that will be dedicated to the AEC industry and used to promote adoption of VR solutions across the construction landscape. Very exciting stuff!

After what seems like mostly fits and starts over the past few years, 2018 could be the year that VR solutions for construction go mainstream. Coupled with Facebook’s heavy push into VR through its Oculus platform and other startups in the space (like Serious Labs, the VR construction equipment trainer we wrote about recently here at AEC Labs), we expect to see much more activity and discussion in this space in the months ahead.