With the risk of accidents related to construction work, a safe and healthy jobsite is needed—and advancements in technology can minimize the mortality rate. Industrial wearables, smart glasses, smart gloves, head mounted displays, cameras, audio devices, and sensors embedded into clothes, are geared to transform the construction sector by reducing error rate, improving efficiency, and ultimately the safety of workers.
With the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), wearables are expected to soar because they will provide real-time data, as well as perform monitoring and tracking functionalities. Wearables establish a connection between workers and the digital platform.
Wearable devices can have a positive impact on construction applications and these include see-through glasses, head mounted devices, wrist bands that are intended for enhancing visual aid, assessing fatigue, strengthening protection, and productivity and efficiency improvements.
While wearables are still relatively new to the construction sector, they are gaining traction. The ability to have information at your fingertips in the form of a headset or smart glasses is a big attraction to those in the industry.
Building Better with Wearables
These wearable solutions can help solve issues that the industry has been plagued with, all while leveraging advanced processes such as building information modeling (BIM).
Andy Lowery CEO, Realwear, says, “Technology can help with productivity with mobile computing. The productivity in a lot of industries has gone up except for in construction. Look at building information models, for instance. A contractor can see what is being built against the model (compared to) what it is supposed to be. They are able to overlay the BIM in the room. A wearable can be safer on the jobsite also.”
Wearables can also help solve many of the business hurdles that still exist in the construction industry, but in general it is helping improve business overall.
David Nedohin, president and cofounder, Scope AR, says, “There are a few challenges wearables help solve. Augmented Reality (AR) is replacing paper manuals, for instance. One of the challenges is finding the cases where the technology will give contractors results. Practical use cases, not just the overall goal and long-term outcomes. Being able to solve a small problem and build from there.”
This breakthrough and advanced technology can only work on the jobsite where connectivity is readily available. If connectivity is lacking that can present a whole set of roadblocks for construction companies.
Lowery says, “The Industrial Internet of Things is connecting workers. There are no challenges with the hardware so to speak. The challenges are with the IT infrastructure at the jobsite where there is no connectivity, no IT. Being able to have mobile connectivity at the jobsite and integrate the technology and having it wholly supported.”
Besides connectivity issues, knowing how to introduce the technology on the jobsite can be an impediment. Nedohin explains, “Contractors need to be identifying the right people to use the technology. They need to be making sure there is a real problem to fix and how they will measure the solution.”
Wearables can provide a great deal of benefits to the contractors using them. They can increase productivity and efficiency. They can improve safety. There are smart glasses and headsets that can provide instructions in the displays and AR views of the completed project across the jobsite.
The technology available in wearables opens up a whole new set of possibilities for contractors. Lowery adds, “The benefits are high in the safety category. A hands-free device gives you peace of mind. By having information available to you, while being hands free increases productivity and it avoids rework having to be done due to human error. A contractor can see the project as it happens. The knowledge transfer is another benefit. As the older generation retires, they can leave their knowledge, their expertise on the jobsite with the technology. It provides the information to the younger generation on the device.”
Being able to look-up information or have a question answered is another big benefit on the jobsite when leveraging wearable devices.
Nedohin says, “A main benefit is that this technology gives the person who needs the knowledge, puts it in their hands. The knowledge comes through the wearable and the contractor gets the instructions and expertise on the jobsite. They know what to do properly and when to do it. Wearables can provide more effective training. More like on the job, in the moment, training on certain tasks.”
The Future of Wearables
The wearables market is pretty extensive with many products and options to choose from. Not all of the options are good fits for the construction industry. When it comes to jobsite safety, reviewing the types of products available is important.
Lowery says, “There are a lot of devices out there in the market. Not all of them will fit in the construction market. Contractors need to wade through the devices and make sure they get ones for their needs in the field.”
Once the right wearable solution is chosen, contractors should have no trouble with the technology, as it is often easy to implement.
Nedohin says, “The technology won’t be complex to use. AR is now easy to use for the first time. It’s totally scalable. With wearables, it’s easy and quick to use. We are getting to a maturity level with the market and wearables. Hardware and software together is changing the ways to use AR and wearables. It’s a good idea to start using it now.”
Construction companies that embrace technology on the jobsite and use wearables will be better positioned to move forward. As technology on the jobsite increases, contractors will become more connected.
Further, as more construction professionals embrace wearables, the products will get better and more tailored to meet the needs of construction. Having a connected jobsite can make the work easier for all those involved. The future of the construction jobsite will quickly include solutions that will be tailored to contractors using wearables in their daily routines. Only time will tell how those devices will change and in what form factor they will take, especially when you consider AR/VR and so much more.