Wearables have the potential to transform the construction industry through the ability to improve safety and efficiency for workers.
Safety is being spearheaded by innovations such as gyroscopes, emergency alerts, and tracking devices, while GPS-enabled wearables and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology are driving improvements in efficiency on construction sites, according to GlobalData.
The wearable tech industry was worth nearly $23 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 19 per cent to hit $54 billion by 2023.
The company’s latest report, Thematic Research: Wearable tech in Construction, forecasts that growth in the wearable tech industry will be driven by the utilisation of many countries’ aging workforces in remote support roles for a younger generation of workers through AI and smart glasses technology, as well as wearable exoskeletons as an aid for workers’ physical support during strenuous tasks where there is risk of injury.
Lead Economist at GlobalData, Danny Richards, commented that wearable tech, such as the smart helmets developed by companies such as SmartCap Technologies, is helping to increase safety on construction sites.
“SmartCap measures workers’ fatigue levels and detects micro-sleeps, alerting them when they are in need of a break,” Richards said.
Safety and efficiency are two primary trends in construction, and GlobalData indicates that they are driving the adoption of wearable tech.
Companies such as Reactec are combating Hybrid Air Vehicles in construction workers through their smartwatches and specialised app, RASOR, which monitors risks and safety issues and lets workers know when they need to down tools.
“This technology was recently used by former UK construction giant Carillion and led to a significant increase in worker protection and productivity, as well as a £3,000 saving in labour costs over 18 months. PETIT, a subsidiary of the French construction company VINCI Construction, has also incorporated augmented reality into its developments,” Richards said.
Apple is the dominant player in the smartwatches segment, thanks to the success of the Apple Watch, and also holds a strong position in the hearables segment, where AirPods are the market leader. Other well-positioned players across wearable tech include Huawei, Google, Samsung, and Xiaomi.
“Despite wearables’ difficulty launching in the consumer market, its commercial applications have proven valuable. As the benefits of wearable tech becomes clearer to construction companies, uptake is likely to increase,” noted Richards.