It is easy to think of wearable technology as simply a consumer good, used for greater connectivity to the online world, or a tool to track one’s fitness. Although this is true, wearables are slowly seeping in to the professional sphere, and can actually provide the construction industry a number of benefits. Much like the impact of cloud technology and mobile, wearables are becoming more commonplace in construction, and in the coming years, its use may become widespread. The challenge becomes convincing those in the industry – who are typically averse to technology – to adopt newer innovations. Below are a few examples of how wearable technology can become a huge player in the construction industry, providing a tool that provides benefits for safety, communication and productivity.
One of the most important pieces of equipment in construction is the helmet. To add a technological twist, smart helmets are growing in popularity and provide a number capabilities that enhance safety in multiple ways. Daqri, a California-based company, has developed an updated version of the standard hardhat, taking advantage of modern technology. The Daqri Smart Helmet has the appearance of a regular hardhat, but includes a clear visor that displays 3D visual overlays in the wearer’s field of vision. Through augmented technology, a 360° view allows workers to see all of their surroundings which will help increase safety and has the potential to reduce accidents on jobsites. More advanced features of smart helmets include augmented work instructions, direct communication to remote workers and thermal vision.
Much of the health and safety issues that arise in a construction site have to do with arduous physical labor, causing long-term problems for each worker. To combat this, bionic suits provide the ability to pick up and operate heavy machinery with ease. Bionic suits have the ability to reduce labor time for tasks like chipping concrete from five days, down to just one. Bionic suits can make a positive impact in terms of health and safety, but also contribute to greater efficiencies and productivity on jobsites. Although currently uncommon in construction, future bionic suit designs will be tailored to specific types of equipment, and will only increase in strength.
Smart Safety Vests
Another jobsite necessity is the safety vest. One way the safety vest is being update is through location-enabling and tracking capabilities. Some functions include monitoring a worker’s activities, distance walked, temperature and hours worked. With GPS, hazard areas can be defined and if a worker enters these zones, the vest will flash to alert them not to enter. Call buttons are also included for emergency situations where nearby workers will be alerted of the specific location of their injured colleague. Smart safety vests provide an extremely effective tool for tracking productivity, safety and enable construction companies the ability to increase real-time visibility for each individual worker.
Although smart helmets, vests and bionic suits provide a myriad of benefits, they also come with a high price tag. For smaller companies wishing to try out the latest technologies, smart glasses provide an affordable starting point. Similar to smart glasses used in the consumer sphere, like Google Glass, many of these functions can also be used in construction. Smart Glass wearers have the ability to control what they see on their lens by rolling your eyes in certain directions. The wearer can also access plans, instructions, and layouts all by using the glasses. Using smart glasses can eliminate the need for bulky plans and paperwork. Everything is portable and accessible at a moment’s notice which makes work more efficient. These devices also have the ability to record pictures, videos and voice commands that are integrated with mobile apps.