Digitalization and technology are invading every aspect of life, and the construction industry isn’t going to be left behind. Wearable technology is a huge part of this trend, with shipments of smart wearables expected to reach more than 500 million by 2021.
The benefits of this technology for contractors are many, including huge potential to improve safety and increase productivity. But they haven’t been without their challenges. Implementation has been a particular concern, and many contractors are reluctant to trust the technology.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the available choices in wearables and how they can benefit the construction industry.
Safety helmets have been a required part of jobsite safety for ages. But until now they’ve primarily only served one function: to physically protect your head. But now the power of smart technology lets them do so much more. Transparent visors provide a heads-up display of blueprints, instructions and notifications. They can also record video, share location data and offer foremen real-time information on everyone on their site.
Another piece of equipment standard on every construction job in the world, wearable tech revolutionizes this old staple. Equipped with GPS, smart vests keep tabs on workers, helping identify project delays and inefficiencies. And an emergency button lets workers call for help or immediately alert others to safety issues.
Today’s steel-toed boots are a far cry from your grandfather’s work shoes, but even the latest anti-fatigue insoles are just a tiny step towards the full potential of wearable tech. From harnessing kinetic energy from every step, to tracking GPS location, sensing temperature and motion, to providing a means of cloud access, self-charging shoes can offer many of the benefits of smartphones, and foot protection at the same time.
Imagine heavy equipment that can only be operated by qualified and approved users. Now imagine the engine can only be started by these people, and the machine will be able to identify them from the moment they sit down. Or sensitive areas that are off-limits except to the people who are supposed to be there. Gates unlock and open as they approach, keeping everything safe and secure. The potentials are practically unlimited for RFID-enhanced clothing on jobsites.
Iron Man exo-suits may be closer than you think. Harnessing the power of machinery, these bionic suits will allow any worker to perform superhuman tasks — all while protecting against muscle strains. Think about it: workers lifting materials that weigh hundreds of pounds with ease — without risking the back injuries that plague so many construction employees.
With the exponential explosion of technology that has occurred in the last 30 years, there seems to be no limit to what wearable technology can accomplish. But one thing is certain, it will provide tangible, viable solutions to increase both safety and productivity. And construction will be one of the industries that reaps the biggest benefits.
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