Wearable Technology in the Construction Industry
In the past, the construction industry has been slow to adopt new technology. That trend is starting to change now, with many construction companies diving headfirst into Industry 4.0, integrating more connected devices into the worksite. One of the most promising and popular aspects of this digital revolution is wearable tech.
By some estimates, the wearable tech industry will be worth $54 billion by 2023, more than double its 2018 figure. While that number covers far more than just construction, this industry is one where wearables are particularly valuable. The efficiency and safety benefits they provide are critical for a time-sensitive, potentially risky sector.
The future of the construction industry is full of wearables. Here are some of the most promising examples.
One of the reasons why construction is perfect for wearables is because the industry already involves wearable equipment. High-visibility vests and hardhats are standard in the sector, so tech companies can make "smart" versions of these instead of pushing new items. There are already connected helmets and safety jackets on the market.
Sensors inside these standard PPE items can sense if workers are tired or overworked and may need a break. Alternatively, they could provide location data so managers can know where everyone is at any given time. These resources will both improve safety on the worksite and help teams achieve higher levels of efficiency.
Smartwatches are perhaps the most popular form of wearable tech today, though you see them more in everyday use than in construction. As they've taken off in recreational spheres, they've started to see more use in professional settings. With smart wristband shipments surpassing 65 million units, their penetration into construction is inevitable.
At their most basic, these technologies give workers a mostly hands-free communication tool. They can offer more than just that, though, including health services like blood oxygen sensors and heartrate monitors. As technology improves, they may even allow workers to connect to and control other IoT devices like drones.
Smart glasses have yet to take off in the commercial sector, but they have significant potential in construction. These devices use augmented reality (AR) technology to overlay information in a worker's field of view. In the building industry, this could look like workers being able to see blueprints and designs in front of them as they work.
In time, these devices could come with additional gadgets built-in, like environmental sensors. Workers could use smart glasses with built-in spectrometers to ensure that an area they're building has proper lighting. Since artificial light exposure can affect health, this knowledge is crucial for developing better workplaces and residences.
Exoskeletons, or wearable robotics, are one the newest, but most promising wearable technologies for construction. These machines provide muscular and skeletal support for workers who need to lift or carry heavy objects. Not only does this allow workers to perform the same duties with less risk of injury, but it can help them handle even more.
Overexertion and similar injuries are the leading injury type that results in days away from work. Using exoskeletons for support would substantially reduce the risk of a worker getting one of these injuries from heavy lifting. As a result, construction workers can be both safer and more efficient for longer stretches.
Wearables Are Transforming Construction
Wearable tech has already disrupted the consumer market, and now it's starting to enter construction. In an industry where small mistakes can lead to dire consequences, both in efficiency and safety, the precision of wearables is unignorable. These technologies will transform the sector because the sector can't afford not to transform.
These four wearable technologies are just a sample of the things that could revolutionize the industry. With these tools, construction is finally entering the modern age, and can even step into the future.