Wearable Tech in the Construction Industry

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Robison Wells
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According to market analysis group CCS Insight, the wearable technology industry will be worth $34 billion by 2020. This may come as a shock to people who remember the ill-fated Google Glass, which literally got users beaten up by strangers didn’t like finding themselves in front of a camera. Google Glass was called the “the future that nobody wanted,” and the product is all but dead.

But wearable tech is booming in other markets: the FitBit and other activity trackers are taking the exercise world by storm, counting a user’s daily steps, monitoring their heart rate, tracking their paths by GPS, and a number of other features.

In the professional world, perhaps the most well-known commercial use of wearable tech is for police body cameras. Not only are they protecting the officers, but they’re also encouraging good behavior: A study in Rialto, CA, showed that wearing the cameras caused an 87.5% decrease in officer complaints, and a 59% decrease in use of force over the course of a year. Steve Tuttle of TASER International (the largest manufacturer of police body cams) said “All it takes is that first complaint from someone to be resolved by this footage to really start getting officers to buy in. This becomes their legal body armor.”

And now wearable tech is coming to the construction industry for myriad reasons. According to Marla McIntyre, editor of Construction Executive Tech Trends, “Data from wearables can tell a manager if a worker has fallen, has an accelerated heartbeat, or is in a restricted area as well as how productive that worker is. At the same time, a manager can tell if productivity is lagging and find out the cause.”

Using wearables is definitely a smart business move for contractors and construction companies, as their use can lead to not only the improved health and safety of their workers, but to fewer OSHA complaints and fines, and lower insurance rates.

Aside from safety uses, other wearable construction tech includes things like head-mounted radios to communicate with other workers, and even augmented reality goggles that let you see blueprints remotely, or even view a hologram of a jobsite.

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