Eye-tracking tech identifies building defects using laser focus

New eye-tracking technologies are being developed by Australian engineers to identify building defects early in the construction process. The tech could potentially save millions of dollars in time and resources.

Embedded in 3D headsets, the technology is designed to help construction workers undertake more thorough checklists, cutting down on the estimated 60 per cent of building costs related to fixing mistakes.

University of South Australia PhD student Kieran May, computer scientist Dr James Walsh and colleagues from UniSA’s Australian Research Centre for Interactive and Virtual Environments, have designed a tool that combines building information modelling and eye gaze data captured during a standard building inspection.

“The augmented reality headsets shoot laser beams out of the bottom of the user’s eye to track where they are looking in a 3D model when they do a building inspection,” Dr Walsh says.

The eye-tracking technology validates the checklist process, ensuring that construction workers are doing a thorough inspection by matching their eye gaze data against the 3D architectural building model.

“The tool ensures that people doing a building inspection are not just walking through a room, but spending enough time to thoroughly check essential elements, identifying that light switches, taps, cables, or pipes are the correct ones and are properly installed,” Dr Walsh says.

“Depending on the nature of the build, whether it’s bespoke or more standardised, the temptation is to tick checklist boxes without doing a rigid inspection, and that can cost thousands of dollars if defects are not picked up early on.”

Dr Walsh says the eye-tracking data does not replace a checklist, but validates it, so defects must still be manually recorded.

“For the construction industry, at the end of the day it’s all about costs and timelines,” he says. “The earlier we can identify what has gone wrong, the quicker we can fix it and the cheaper it is going to be to remedy it.”

The researchers are working with construction partners to evaluate the tool onsite over a building project’s life-cycle.

The project was presented at the 2022 IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality in Singapore.

Image: UniSA’s Dr James Walsh

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