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6 Exciting Wearable Technologies for Design and Construction

Posted by Dan Dolinar on Thu, Mar 24, 2016 @ 16:03 PM
Dan Dolinar
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As new design and construction technologies continue to make a positive impact on our jobsites, it was only a matter of time before wearable technology arrived on the scene. It is refreshing to note, a number of these technologies are developed to enhance the everyday gear familiar to the jobsite worker. Created to boost adoption, wearable technology may eventually be used to enhance or offer added functionalities to the hardhat, safety vest and power tools. The following explores 6 exciting wearable technologies for design and construction:

  1. The VR Headset: Design and construction firms are using VR headsets to provide clients with a spatial understanding of their future building. Headsets are used to deliver uploaded Revit files to a headset, which allows for the user to visualize the environment in a 3D format and make further refinements to the model environment. Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive headsets are becoming commonplace and will continue to evolve as technology firms continue to innovate functionality and overall user experience.

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Oculus Rift

1. The Smart Hardhat: As VR and AR continue to proliferate the design and construction industry, it was only matter of time before we saw a smart hardhat. Based in California, Daqri’s Smart Helmet resembles a jobsite hardhat but integrates a clear visor that overlays a 3D visual, i.e. augmented reality functionality mixing design images dynamically within the surrounding environment. In addition, the helmet is equipped with a 360° wireless camera, giving the wearer a complete view of their surroundings. The many capabilities of this Smart Helmet is pretty exciting and something to keep an eye on.

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Daqri’s Smart Helmet 

2. Cloud-based Ocular Systems: Wearables combined with cloud-based ocular systems are connecting jobsite managers to onsite workers. Internet-based solutions create an audio-visual exchange between the managers projected screen and a worker’s camera. In effect, management is able to see what a worker sees on the jobsite. This functionality offers up a whole new approach to jobsite shadowing where experienced employees can mentor and train employees

3. Gesture Tools: Wearables utilizing gesture recognition identify and respond to simple jobsite worker gestures. Technologies are both 2D and 3D based and incorporate a camera-enabled device, which is placed in front of a worker’s view. One example is the Myo gesture tool, which is worn on a worker’s arm. The worker’s gestures interact with an interface overlaid on smart glasses allowing the user to take pictures, collaborate with the team, and perform administrate jobsite tasks in real-time. The idea is to use simple gestures to improve communication and create jobsite efficiencies.

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Thalmic Labs Myo Gesture Tool

4. The Safety Vest: Technology adoption is not easy. However, it is not a stretch when the technologies are integrated with a familiar process. In this case, the wearable technology is a safety vest. Rather than trying to convince workers to adopt more gear, they are simply slipping into what they know. This clever safety vest is GPS-enabled to track worker locations across a crowded worksite. The vest is activated within a geofenced worksite and locates a worker with precision. The intent is to identify when a worker may be in an unsafe working condition on an active jobsite, or for mapping resources across a jobsite to aid in scheduling.

5. The Exosuit: Imagine being able to use cordless power tools, lift heavy bags of concrete or loads of heavy materials. That is the kind of transformation that could occur with a well-designed exosuit. Ekso Bionics is a manufacturer developing a lightweight powered harness that may be able to help construction workers to lift heavy loads while reducing physical strain and injury. The Robotic Air Compressor fits like a light backpack and is being developed to empower the jobsite worker. In the not so distant future, the modern builder will equipped with wireless power tools and incredible strength – not unlike Iron Man. Truly amazing.

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Ekso Bionics Exosuit

What jobsite wearable technologies are you excited about? Share what you’ve seen with us!

Topics: Gear + Apps, Construction Technology, Wearable Technology