Ever since the dawn of Apple Watches and Fitbits, the world has been bombarded by the word “wearable.” Business Insiderexpects the use of wearables to increase at an annual rate of 35 percent over the next five years, reaching 148 million active units by 2019 from the 33 million in use in 2015.
Jochen Teizer, director of RAPIDS Construction Safety and Technology Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology, expects the construction industry to experience significant improvements in safety and health thanks to innovations in wearable technology.
“The technology has finally caught up so that it can provide the solutions our research has shown to be needed in the construction industry,” he said. “Collecting data on workforce movements and behavior can allow us to identify safety and health related patterns and intervene.”
Wearable tech can also improve workplace satisfaction and productivity, by 3.5 percent and 8.5 percent, respectively, according to a recent Rackspace study.
But to be implemented in the construction industry, experts believe adding high-tech capabilities to what construction crews already wear will be the best option for early adoption.
Here are three wearable devices that could help you improve your job site safety, productivity and satisfaction in 2016.
DAQRI Smart Helmet
Your best employee may not be able to be at every job site, but the DAQRI Smart Helmet aims to at least bring their knowledge to each and every project. The goal is for workers to understand processes quicker, spend less time on each step and make fewer errors through augmented reality training and guidance from the Smart Helmet.
On January 5, DAQRI announced its next generation helmet with a 6th Gen Intel Core m7 processor and Intel RealSense technology.
An HD display is visible on a hardhat visor attachment. The helmet is equipped with a high-resolution camera and 360-degree navigation cameras that can record videos, photos, 3D mapping, and alpha numeric capture (to understand signage and instrument data). The display is visible both in low light and bright conditions, and can be controlled by a smart watch.
The DARQI Smart Helmet is in the pilot phase with Fortune 100 companies in a variety of industries, including aerospace, oil and gas, and construction, and will be available for purchase in the first quarter of 2016.
The Halo Light
ILLUMAGEAR’s Halo Light is a personal active safety system that produces a ring of light around the wearer, allowing him to see and be seen in all directions at all times. Although the Halo Light was built for construction, it’s also been used by miners, truckers, refinery workers, electricians, utility workers, longshoremen, rail road crews, crane crews, logistic companies, and even crossing guards. So far, more than 7,000 units have been deployed on U.S. jobsites.
CEO Max Baker developed the Halo Light while working as a construction laborer and manager for eight years. “Vehicles and equipment are actively illuminated, but workers had to rely on reflective gear,” he said. So, he invented a safety light that can be worn, like a halo, over any hardhat and weighs little more than current headlamps. “Unlike standard reflective gear, the Halo Light actively illuminates the worker—it doesn’t rely on a secondary source of light to light up the worker.”
Because it’s both portable and personal, the Halo Light also floods the worker’s local task area with light in all directions without shadows. Each unit lasts for more than 12 hours on a single charge, and it takes five and a half hours to recharge a fully depleted unit.
The Halo Light has also won 17 awards for safety innovation and product design, from groups including the American Traffic Safety Services Association, American Road & Transportation Builders Association, and the Construction Innovation Forum.
XOEye Technologies’ wearable system features a camera, microphone, and speaker, and captures exactly what your crew is doing while they do it.
“We’ve heard so many calls where someone says, ‘I wish I could see what you’re looking at right now,’” CEO Aaron Salow said. For example, using XOEye’s glasses, employees in the field can call a senior employee or manager anywhere to get step-by-step instruction and feedback in real time. “The tech can see what they see, hear what they hear.”
The system can also be used to transfer knowledge from senior staff to new employees. “Every CEO we work with says that [finding and retaining good talent] keeps them up at night,” Salow said. “The gap in skilled trades resonates with all of our customers.”
The headset can also be helpful as employees take photos and video of the job site when they arrive and after they’ve completed the job. “The glasses offer a high level of customer transparency,” Salow said. “The customer could have access to that video”
“If you’re working on a job and want to recommend additional services, whoever’s there may need to check with their spouse or business partner,” Salow said. “You can send them the link, show them the situation, and decide in real time whether or not to do it.”
The glasses last 6 to 8 hours during normal use, or about 1.5 hours during HD video calls.