Wearable Tech World Feature Article
August 22, 2013

Wearable Tech Has Compelling Applications in the Construction Industry

Wearable technology is in that new and nascent stage. While thus far, most of the applications have been for medical patient monitoring or fitness, some devices that are still in the development stage – think Google Glass – will open the field to a “sky’s the limit” environment.

One of the major emerging markets for wearable technology is in the construction industry, where precision needs to be coupled with mobility, since much of the work is done on-site away from desktop computers. Sensors worn on the body or in gloves or hard hats can measure distances, determine when job sites become unsafe, display engineering drawings, check work being done against plans and much more. Wearable technology also has the potential to reduce injuries due to falls, electrocution and particulate inhalation. 

Image via Shutterstock

The website ContrucTech recently highlighted an effort by The Virginia Tech College of Engineering, in Blacksburg, Va., which has a long-term vision for wearable technology in construction. This might include a network of environmental sensors and intelligent personal protective gear on construction sites that will improve safety for workers.

“The first development in this venture is a construction helmet with a sensor that can detect the onset of carbon monoxide poisoning, which is a concern in residential and industrial settings as the exhaust from gasoline-powered hand tools can quickly build up in enclosed spaces,” writes ConstrucTech.

Researchers at Virginia Tech essentially integrated a pulse oximetry into a construction helmet. This sensor would continuously monitor workers’ blood gas saturation levels and ensure that fumes aren’t building up to toxic levels and risking the worker’s health.

Virginia Tech’s research on the subject is being presented in a research paper entitled, “Feasibility of Intelligent Monitoring of Construction Workers for Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.” The paper was presented and given an award at the 2013 Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Conference, taking place this week (Aug. 21).

Once Google Glass is ready for its close-up, it’s likely that many construction and engineering applications will eventually find their way onto the platform. The device’s visual projection could help site managers and architects ensure that building is going according to plans as laid out in architectural drawings.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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