The construction segment is widely considered a fringe embracer of novel technologies. Culprits include low investment in digitization, heavy leanings toward traditional building methods, an aging labor force, and demographic factors. Hence, nascent innovations like wearables – which bring wholescale improvements to the construction site – are at the embryonic phase.
Despite not reaching optimum potential, experts are positive that the narrative will become more ecstatic in the not-too-distant future. The rationale for the surge in demand for new approaches that improve worker safety is that the orthodox methods have proved inefficient when it comes to lowering the cases of fatal and non-fatal accidents on the site.
IoT technology helps construction sites achieve their safety goals while optimizing performance and efficiency.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the interconnection of physical devices, vehicles, buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators and network connectivity that enable these objects to collect and exchange data.
The IoT wearable device is a type of technology that an IoT software development company can provide. It can be used for many different applications. For example, a smartwatch may have features such as activity tracking, notifications from your phone and even GPS navigation.
Construction sites are often dangerous places due to heavy machinery and equipment involved in building construction projects such as excavators or cranes. In 2014 alone there were over 4 million workplace injuries related to construction work in the U.S., which resulted in nearly 400 deaths per day (OSHA).
The approach toward construction safety has always been reactionary and not preventive. The introduction of wearable devices for use by the construction worker provides remote communicative links for monitoring and accident prevention. Wearables also enhance construction site maneuvering, education, contactless data sharing, and accessibility.
Five Most Practicable Wearable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Innovations
Smart safety helmets comprise a headband that scans electroencephalogram (EEG) brain waves. Once the program identifies a spike in the tiredness or microsleep levels, the system sends alerts to a linked mobile app or other smart device.
Smart caps may or may not feature a camera that records occurrences and assists with location and navigation.
Smart Caps, at the moment, depend only on general metrics to capture information. However, brain activity is a complex subject that has varying levels of drowsiness. To work effectively, smart caps have to be built around state-of-the-art fatigue-detection programs.
When used in conjunction with AR, smart eyewear enable wearers to live-stream details in their field-of-view using voice control without handling. They may also get notifications if they come close to a potentially dangerous space, following real-time instructions from remote-based operators.
To ensure that the wearable device is a more applicable tool, and not some fanciful gizmo, workers should have specialized training and ample internalization time to effectively handle the stream of remote data captured by their smart eyewear.
Smart e-apparel are imbued with sensors that measure the wearer’s physical condition, including temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, muscle injury, and any other physiological component. E-vests also sense heat-stress conditions and create alerts in real-time whenever there is a mishap.
The small sensors interact with each other in a BAN, updating the data on the worker’s smart device or the server at the office’s site.
Smart-wear is still in its early days, especially in the domain of energy harvesting and device miniaturization. Current concerns for smart vests include charging and battery life problems.
Smart boots come with sensors such as thermometers, GPS, Wi-Fi, and IMUs that detect temperature, location, pressure, and inertial data. Connected footwear such as SolePower boots are fitted with a kinetic charger, which harnesses the energy generated while walking.
Communicative smart boots obtain data such as activity and gait patterns, as well as the immediate environment to provide location information, sending it to a smart device. This interactive chain prompts managers whenever there is a slip or any other accident who then informs on-site safety personnel to act swiftly.
Before connected footwear becomes widely available in the construction segment, there needs to be more research work done. In addition, lightweight construction and smart sensors have to be improved upon, as well as data latency and channels that quicken safety workers’ accident reaction time.
The smart wearable watch provides a means for managers to monitor their subordinate’s activities, performance, and health. It also allows the workers to interact with their colleagues to learn updates on projects and receive instructions.
Multiple contemporary studies have demonstrated that readings from smart watches are considerably accurate when the wearer is at rest, and spike dramatically in absolute error when there is activity. The miscalculations that bedevil intelligent watches are as a result of errors emanating from motion artifacts, when sensors situated over the skin are dislodged.
Three Essential Components of Wearables
Construction workers are subjected to risks both environmental and physical. These risks include exhaustion, microsleeps, alternating locations, changing project conditions, among others.
Against this back-story, technological solutions for construction site safety should be able to evaluate biometric data obtained by wearable smart devices and geolocation data from BLE-based, real-time location networks (RTLSs), satellites, RFID tags, and ecological markers.
A typical wearable solution for construction site safety should have three fundamental components:
The hardware component comprises tangible objects with a semiconductor: sensor fastened to wearables including headwear, footwear, garments, and tags attached to equipment. Sensors such as galvanic skin response (GSR), gyroscopes, accelerometers, and magnetometers make up the body sensor network comprising sensors placed in, on, or around the body.
The communication grid exchanges data between sensors, transferring it to remote servers for advanced analysis. They also analyze the data in real time for quick responses.
Wearable innovations for construction site safety can swap data at three levels:
- Body Area Network (BAN). This network connects on–body sensors. Usually, they have a short-range reach and are enabled by Bluetooth and Zigbee.
- Personal Area Network (PAN)/Local Area Network (LAN). A wireless PAN (WPAN), such as wireless LAN (WLAN), Bluetooth, gathers data from sensors and sends them to an on-cloud or on-premise server for storage.
- Wide Area Network (WAN). These are networks that rely on distributed architecture. Data exchange is enabled by GPS satellite communication, cellular and Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access or metropolitan area networks, and Internet Protocols (IPs), providing access to the Web.
This is the intangible, non-physical element, which includes middleware and an application. They are the center for computation, analysis, storage, and visualization. Embedded intelligence and data analysis allow systems to be context-smart and adaptive. For example, analyzing location and biometric data, a software alerts the operator potential health dangers.
The construction market is evolving. Soon, we will witness the commencement of landmark projects in this highly volatile industry which will see wider adoption for innovative and safety management devices and apps.
The center for construction research and training has already forecasted that construction managers spend 3.6% of their total costs on injury-related clinical expenses, rehabilitation costs, and worker compensation packages. Making investments in innovation-forward safety programs and wearable devices guarantee rewards on both economic and ethical fronts.