New Technologies in Construction: Wearables in Construction
Construction wearables are appearing more frequently on job sites. Some of them improve comfort while others heighten safety levels. Here is a sample of some of the top wearables in construction to watch for.
While not a new concept, the technology behind heated jackets is improving. They have battery packs that can last at least eight hours and are much lighter, with most weighing no more than two pounds. Some companies are making them reflective for construction and other outdoor workers and even using rechargeable Lithium-Ion batteries. More jackets are offering heat settings to suit wearer comfort.
Cooling vests are one of the more common wearables in construction. Most use a fluid cooling system consisting of an ice water bladder with a mini-pump and cooling tubes. The water is pumped through the tubes to keep the wearer cooler in hot weather. There are also ventilation vests and personal air conditioning vests that are battery-operated and use small fans to distribute air around the wearer.
Smart Cap sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie but it can improve worker safety. It monitors fatigue levels by checking the wearer’s brain waves. If a worker starts to doze off, it vibrates or makes a noise to make them stop what they’re doing until they are more alert.
Companies like SolePower are building smart work boots that charge their own batteries and even include job-specific sensors. Those who work outside in cold weather would have temperature sensors and gas company employees could wear sensors that detect leaks.
Some companies are developing safety vests that can monitor heart rate as well as wearer position and impact, the latter two capable of detecting the severity of slips and falls. Doctors can use the information collected to treat injured employees while supervisors apply to it to accident prevention strategies.
One of the newer construction wearables, Spot-R Clips identify the number of workers on a job site and their locations. If someone slips, trips, or falls a built-in gyroscope lets a supervisor know where they are. Workers can also use a push-button alert to signal to help if they’re injured. For added safety, the app has a feature that lets employees know if they need to evacuate.
A Microsoft product, the HoloLens is certified protective eyewear that lets users create a 3D building plan overlay across a job site. Project managers can see how everything will be laid out on the site before it’s built. If a part doesn’t fit, it can be changed or resized before being shipped to the site.
The construction industry has many needs that can be filled by wearable technology so we can see more construction wearables appearing on job sites everywhere. As technology evolves, more items will be added to this list. From detecting sleepiness to preventing gas poisoning to triggering an evacuation, wearables in construction will become more important as safety tools.