Construction technology (contech) is much in the news these days. A fresh spurt of investments in semi-automated/fully-automated construction equipment, innovative tools, machinery, modifications and software is projected to bring down rising construction costs and tackle shortage in workforce. From all reports, the outlook in 2019 is very optimistic.
Wearable technology is expected to play a cornerstone role in contech’s forward movement, improving on-site safety and streamlining project management within the industry. Over 250 million smart wearables are predicted to be in use by the end of the year, enhancing information dissemination, data collection and on-site safety. Plus, technology is attractive to millennials who are more likely to join the workforce, if construction loses its `old fashioned’ label and displays mass adoption of smart solutions.
But what does wearable technology in construction, powered by the Internet of Things (IoT), look like?
Here are 3 examples of wearable technology products currently in use, which draw a vivid picture of what innovations we might expect to see in the near future:
# 1: HoloLens
Holographic computing, created by Microsoft, is fundamentally changing the construction industry by allowing users to overlay 3D building plans over a job site, so project managers can see the site in its entirety – down to nuts, bolts and hangers — before it is even built.
The HoloLens headsets, in collaboration with the Trimble Connect hard-hat solutions app, facilitate hands-free access to blueprints, teleconferencing in the field, inspection, post-maintenance, employee training and so much more in a mixed reality (a technology that `mixes’ virtual and real worlds) environment.
# 2: Spot-R
Spot-R, created by Triax Technology, is a safety solution clip that updates supervisors on the whereabouts of every worker on site. The wearable sensors collect and transmit real-time workforce and safety information.
On many job sites, supervisors often don’t have a way of knowing if a worker is injured or experiencing a safety incident at a remote location. Spot-R detects such incidents and sends out timely alerts with information on who, when, where and what, including distance of fall. This results in quicker response time, and reduces the risk of compounding injury. Workers can also use Spot-R to inform site personnel about perceived site anomalies, like, say, loose scaffolding, from a distant location.
# 3: Smart Cap
Smart Cap is a unique technology that monitors fatigue based on EEG readings and proven algorithms. This wearable technology prevents `micro sleep’ by alerting construction workers, through vibration and noise, if they are falling asleep on the job. Smart Caps also apprise supervisors if a case of fatigue is hampering the safety of a worker, thus reducing accidents, injuries, and even unfortunate incidents of death, on a jobsite.
As the number of smart wearables used globally is estimated to rise from 250 million to 500 million between 2018 and 2021, the implementation of wearable technology in construction is also expected to keep pace, as the potential benefits are multifold. With an aging workforce retiring out of the industry, and a technology-savvy generation taking their place, construction seems finally ready to embrace IoT innovations that will prove to be the most efficient safety and efficiency tools in one of the world’s most dangerous and diverse industries.