Wearables for Construction?

February 10, 2014

With the growing use of mobile apps and connected devices in everyday life, bringing this technology to the jobsite was inevitable. Today, many construction companies use apps, tablets, and smartphones to access and share project data. The next evolution of this is wearables—and these connected devices could soon be coming to jobsites around the country.

According to Forrester Research, www.forrester.com, Cambridge, Mass., while wearable’s are still in the early stages, the enterprise movement will unfold throughout the next decade. The analyst firm even predicts that by 2020, businesses can expect to see a shift toward using wearables in the enterprise, with company-provided wearables becoming larger than the consumer market.

J.P. Gownder, principal analyst, Forrester Research, says wearables will enable workers, partners, and customers to experience immediacy of data and the devices have the potential to change the way workers conduct business.

What does this mean for the construction industry? Google Glass is one of the wearable devices that has been gaining some buzz in the construction industry, as construction professionals can use the technology to stay connected to project data while walking the jobsite.

Third-party technology companies are also developing solutions to make Google Glass easier to use in the business world. For example, Google Glass has also made its mark on MDM (mobile-device management) with a partnership with Fiberlink, an IBM Co., www.ibm.com, Armonk, N.Y.

Fiberlink offers the MaaS360 program, which is able to monitor and influence a mobile IT environment using Google Glass. Users can lock, locate, or wipe a mobile device with a hand gesture, or even a voice command. This can offer tremendous efficiency, as users can take action within a matter of seconds.

MaaS360 allows Google Glass users to see their mobile data from a broader perspective, with the use of virtual mapping. If a piece of equipment is reported lost, an IT professional can enter a query, and see the device’s location via an on-screen map. If the device cannot be found, or has been stolen, the administrator can also erase the data remotely to prevent a security breach.
 
This collaboration allows messages to be sent to specific users using voice commands. For instance, if an employee’s connected device is out of compliance with security policies, an IT professional can instantly send them instructions to fix the problem.

This is just one example of how technology providers are working together to enable businesses to use wearable devices at the workplace. For the construction industry, M2M, IoT (Internet of Things), and connected devices will continue to play a bigger role on the jobsite.

For construction companies interested in learning more about M2M communications, a new whitepaper on M2M communications breaks down several of the challenges associated with controlling costs and going global with M2M.

As the industry begins to grapple with the changing nature of technology at the jobsite, wearables, M2M, IoT, and connected devices will likely play a greater role on projects going forward.

This new world of wearables is being explored in-depth at the 2014 Connected World Conference, which is located within the 2014 Chicago Auto Show, February 6-17. Today, a panel will specifically address trends related to how wearables can provide data from head-to-toe.