Technology affects nearly every part of modern life. Breakthroughs in gadgetry add depth and productivity to daily life and work in numerous industries. And lately, those breakthroughs have even touched construction — an industry that’s not always known for being technologically advanced. That is poised to change, though. In fact, there are some gadgets that are evolving the landscape of an industry that has long clung to the hands-on, hammer-and-nails methodology.
WILL TECHNOLOGY AND CONSTRUCTION EVER MIX?
There’s no point in gadgets for the sake of gadgets. One of the reasons the construction industry has been resistant to new technology is that offerings can’t distract from the process at hand. They need to be easy to use, add to productivity, and able to be implemented seamlessly into the average workday. There’s no point introducing some fancy new tool if the bugs are still being worked out — the stakes are too high. Technology in construction needs to fulfill a real purpose and not just exist for the sake of being new and innovative.
THE TECH INDUSTRY ANSWERS THE CALL OF CONSTRUCTION
Fortunately, the thought leaders behind today’s technology are well-versed at tackling challenging problems and delivering innovative solutions. We has rounded up the following seven construction gadgets we believe are poised to change the construction industry.
1. SONETICS BLUETOOTH HEADSET
Sonetics’ Bluetooth headsets allow teams to communicate clearly and safely in the field — and eliminate the need for foam earplugs, hand signals, and two-way radio. Multiple channels mean users can talk to each other and also get messages from the boss. The headsets are effective for distances up to two miles, and have “listen-through” capabilities so you can control how much noise gets through. The weather-proof design means you can safely use them in any condition.
2. SAFETY GLASSES FROM XOEYE TECHNOLOGIES
Safety glasses are a must for many construction projects. Smart safety glasses from XOEye Technologies take eye protection one step further. These safety glasses have cameras embedded in them as well as a projected screen. When coupled with Wi-Fi access they enable construction workers to perform precise tasks, such as using 3D mapping schematics, while on the go. This increases efficiency by cutting the time needed to stop and look at plans, and also helps avoid costly mistakes.
3. HALO LIGHT
Hands-free headlamps are nothing new in the construction industry — construction professionals and workers on the ground have used traditional headlamps for years. The Halo Light’s cutting-edge technology changes the way this crucial accessory is used. Designed to wrap securely around any hard hat’s brim, the Halo Light is manufactured by Illumagear as a personal safety system to make workers more visible at night. It provides 360 degree visibility for up to a quarter of a mile, and its rechargeable battery can illuminate the Halo Light for up to 34 hours at a time.
4. DAQRI SMART HELMET
The DAQRI Smart Helmet uses augmented reality to enhance worker capabilities. It enables construction workers to call up work instructions so they appear on its visor. This 4D system instantly puts measurements and details in context so workers can see how a particular task is connected to the overall project. The Smart Helmet also supports HD video recording, 360 degree navigation cameras, 3D mapping, photography, alphanumeric capture, and more. It’s useful for records maintenance, data mining, compliance optimization, and more.
5. SMART CLOTHING
Worker comfort and safety on the job is vitally important when it comes to maintaining productivity and improving job satisfaction. One of the most challenging aspects of this is dealing with what Mother Nature throws out. Responsive clothing, often also referred to as “smart” clothing, is designed to cool or heat workers according to their unique body temperature. The ability to program this clothing based on each person’s preferences eliminates the frustrating “one-size-fits-most” mentality that is found in many other types of clothing.
Today, smart clothing goes beyond comfort and addresses safety concerns, too. With risk of exposure to toxic substances on the rise, researchers in Germany have created protective gloves that change colors when toxic substances are handled.
6. LASER SCANNERS
High-tech laser scanners provide construction workers with the tools they need to increase understanding, efficiency, quality control, and safety. By capturing 3D models with these laser scanners, workers add a dimension to their mapping and documentation that videos and photos lack.
7. CONSTRUCTION DRONES
Drones are becoming increasingly common for a wide range of applications. Their usefulness within the construction industry is almost limitless. During the planning phase, for example, drones can help create contour maps, site plans, site surveys, model renderings, and other valuable real-time documentation. Workers use drones during the build phase to visually inspect nearly any area of the project, and to monitor its progress on the fly. After the project is completed, documentation is as simple as creating surveys from the drone.
One manufacturer, Kespry, has designed a drone platform specifically for the construction industry. During a single flight, the drone can autonomously monitor hundreds of acres while also conducting activities such as various surveys — all without needing to interact with a human. Simply plot the area under consideration using the app, and the drone does all the hard work. After it collects the necessary data, the drone uploads everything to the cloud platform so it can be processed according to the needs of the project.
Construction gadgets effectively marry technology with the hands-on experience that’s so crucial within the industry. Construction firms that use innovative technology to enhance their hands-on approach provide a multi-layered model that allows them to offer more accurate, expansive and forward-thinking services to their clients.