Wearables in the Construction Industry

23rd April 2014

Wearable technology is slowly becoming more accessible and looks likely to sit alongside smartphones and tablets as essentials in day to day life. The Samsung Galaxy Gear (one of the most popular pieces of wearable tech) might have its limitations but with exciting new products like Google Glass reaching the market, we could developments that could help us in specific areas of life.

How is it currently being used?

Eye pieces and wrist devices are the more commercial items utilising technology to the benefit of the user. From taking pictures to connecting to social media, wearable tech is still finding its feet in the mass market. Outside the consumer market, the majority of applications and hardware being produced are in the field of health and medicine. The construction industry however is an ideal candidate for development in wearable tech to find cost saving and safety solutions.

Possibilities

If you think about how wearable technology is currently being implemented (watches, glasses, armbands) it’s clear the technology is still in its infancy. Eventually we will see tailored devices, built for purpose to help increase safety and productivity. Helmet sensors could alert the wearer to hazards, goggles could help in the planning and visualisation of projects, and special vests could incorporate location technology or impact reduction features.

A post on the Digital Journal website highlights the possibilities for wearable technology in the construction industry. With all pieces of equipment connecting to a cloud based processing system, the status, location and statistics of an entire workforce can be monitored and in turn, improved upon.

Dr. Jochen Teizer, Director of the RAPIDS Construction Safety and Technology Laboratory said:

“Our research has shown that bad work layout is often to blame for injuries or fatalities. We have to consider that workers want to be empowered and involved in hazard detection, control, feedback, and decision making.”

Research and restriction

While the current wearables on the market may appear to be fads or even novelties, lots of research has been conducted into how we can use this technology to improve our daily life. For wearable technology to be used in the construction industry effectively, usability and precision must be as efficient as the actual wearability. Movement and physical activity should not be restricted, otherwise the technology will become redundant.