Wearables & IoT: Total Digital Visibility Into Your Construction Site

Wearable devices offer big opportunities for the construction industry. However, when will the emerging solutions surge for the industry? A report released by Tractica late last year shows that the wearables market is seeing growth, but at a slower pace than earlier estimates.

However, enterprise applications—such as use in the construction industry—could see significant growth. Grand View Research predicts the rising enterprise applications of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are expected to fuel the demand for wearable devices such as smart eyewear and head-mounted devices. This will help increase interaction with employees and consumers.

Further, it suggests the Internet of Things (IoT), along with wearable devices, will help organizations in the development and deployment of future generation value-added services by using user-centric data.

Use Cases for Wearables in Construction 

For the construction industry, wearables devices will change how the industry conducts business in a number of different ways. Use cases include:

  • Regular inspection of structures: digital plans and models can be easily compared to physical structures.
  • Capture the build process and have a digital history of the construction process.
  • Clash detection: a clash occurs when components that make up a built asset are not spatially coordinated and conflict.
  • Bringing building information modeling (BIM) and computer-aided design (CAD) onto the job site in augmented reality (AR): this means workers on the job site can easily collaborate with headquarters and interact with digital information and drawings.

“Augmented reality wearables can provide value when complex tasks and physical assets intersect,” explains Jason Haggar, vice president, Global Partner and Developer Programs, DAQRI. “Construction job sites have both of these elements. Augmented reality wearables provide the opportunity to drastically improve the efficiency of a variety of existing processes that are currently performed manually.”

With this type of technology, processes that are currently very manual in nature can be drastically automated and improved upon. Haggar suggests augmented reality and wearable devices can assist in improving a number of different processes across construction. 

  • Design process: collaborating and viewing 3D models
  • Build process: ensuring construction is being executed as designed
  • Communication: collaboration between the headquarters and the job site
  • Training workers: how to perform new processes or operate new machinery

He goes on to explain how to best implement such emerging technologies on a job site. “Make sure to select an augmented reality solution that enables mobile and immersive augmented reality, and will enable integration with exiting systems that store 3D models,” he says. “You will be joining innovative construction companies that are both using and evaluating professional-grade AR today.”

Other benefits include streamlined processes and greater safety, which ultimately leads to a better bottom line. By having a means to do faster and more effective training this enables workers to better retain the training material. This means in the future, hazards on the job site can be tagged and displayed in augmented reality, making risks visible and easier to avoid, according to Haggar.

Total Digital Visibility

At the end of the day, the greatest benefit is having real-time data that is accessible to everyone who needs the information.

Wearables and IoT-enabled devices give project leaders and teams access to that same real-time data that allows them to stay on top of workflows and ahead of potential issues or dangerous situations on the job site.

“Connectivity on the job site is enabling total digital visibility into site operations, worker and equipment location,” explains Chad Hollingsworth, cofounder and CEO of Triax Technologies. “When you know what’s happening on your job site or project, as it’s happening, you can improve response and overall project management. In addition, site connectivity allows contractors to collect and aggregate previously unavailable data that can be analyzed and leveraged to improve future bids or risk management practices.”

Hollingsworth also believes that the adoption of connected technology at the job site is growing right now. More specifically, he says last year a shift happened from the industry saying it needs to embrace tech to beginning to ask for the best solutions.

“Job site technology is no longer an option, but a necessity to stay competitive, particularly against the backdrop of the labor shortage and the proliferation of digital and IoT solutions in the global economy,” he explains. “Construction companies are doing a good job of recognizing a problem or need, identifying solutions and trying them out. This is a critical first step.”

Speaking specifically about the need for greater connectivity on the job site, he says contractors and tech providers need to work together to identify system limitations and build practical and actionable solutions. This will help drive the industry toward a safer, smarter and more profitable future.

Triax Technologies is passionate about bringing more connectivity to the job site as well as integration. “The industry needs to work together to create integrated, flexible connectivity solutions that maximize visibility,” says Hollingsworth.

As this is beginning to happen, the adoption of smart, connected wearable devices is starting to take off. Grand View Research suggests, in particular, the demand for head wear devices is expected to gain momentum due to their applications in highly developing technology such as virtual reality and augmented reality.

This will improve productivity, heighten safety, streamline training process and ultimately improve both the project schedule and the budget, helping to create a more connected job site.

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