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Why Your Construction Company Needs Smart Helmets

Updated Nov 06, 2023

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A smart helmet combines the traditional safety structure of a hard hat with cutting-edge technology to create a safer helmet that’s brimming with features to boost productivity, efficiency and effectiveness.

Smart technology has never been well suited to job site conditions with dust, debris and other hazards that quickly destroy many consumer-grade products. You wouldn’t expect your shiny new Apple Watch to fare well at a construction site, would you? But the smart helmet already has superior strength and construction and protects not only your head but also the smart technology inside the device. This advanced wearable tech has robust sensors and augmented-reality features designed to increase safety and productivity.

What is a smart helmet?

Smart helmets are hard hats with built-in technology made specifically for people who have jobs on construction sites. Construction workers and engineers use the smart helmet for both safety reasons and site planning purposes.

Smart helmets have the same basic appearance as standard hard hats, but they have built-in technologies such as tracking tools, sensors and augmented reality. The technology can warn workers of dangerous conditions and send alerts to team members if any workers need assistance. A smart helmet can also provide access to site planning tools for engineers. For instance, some helmets allow you to view blueprints directly from the visor or even create images using augmented reality.  

According to the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, smart helmets have been linked to improvements in productivity and workplace safety. With all of the tools available remotely on the helmet, there are fewer trips to control or staging areas. Workplace safety rates improve with health-tracking tools and emergency alerts.

FYIDid you know

Most states in the U.S. require that construction companies have a contractor license.

What are the features of smart helmets?

Health monitoring

Focus and cognitive states, as well as vital statistics, are monitorable for every helmet user. The data is tracked in real time and available via a central hub. This technology can provide early warnings of potentially dangerous conditions or locations, and it can identify when a user is too tired or unfocused to safely perform their tasks. 

Hands-free visual data

Working in tight spaces or at high altitudes while carrying auxiliary devices such as tablets poses safety risks. However, it’s often necessary for workers to carry these tools to access or record data. With a smart helmet, that information is accessible through the visor, meaning workers can keep their hands free for balancing and performing their duties.

Proximity safety

People who work on construction sites or around heavy machinery face a significant risk of accidents. Smart helmets can offer forward- and rear-facing depth-sensing cameras. If the helmets sense dangerously close proximity to a nearby object, they send out an audible and/or visual alarm.

Data overlay

Data overlay or visualization gives your workers access to real-time data, reducing the need for them to travel back and forth to computer terminals. For example, if a user has to restart a piece of machinery or a system, they don’t need to go back to the office to get a status report; they can get it right there on their smart helmet’s visor. Another way to take advantage of this feature is to integrate it with highly rated construction estimating tools, which can measure labor and inventory costs for construction projects, estimate how long building will take and manage work data while you’re on the go. 

Did You Know?Did you know

Measure Square, an estimation software option for construction companies, allows businesses to sync and store their data on any digital tool using the cloud.

Thermal vision

Thermal vision can greatly increase workers’ safety, as it lets them visualize, record and analyze temperature data in their immediate environment.

Guided work instructions

With intuitive augmented instructions, smart helmets can show your team what processes or tasks need to be completed and how to do them. You can also send your own instructions from your central monitoring system to a worker.

Live support

Waiting for an expert can be annoyingly time-consuming and result in reduced efficiency and productivity. Disaster can ensue if a worker attempts a task for which they’re unqualified without seeking guidance. Smart helmets feature remote expert support, so workers can make and receive calls and video calls from their visor to request and receive assistance. There’s also augmentation support, so the support person can walk the worker through a task with visual aids.

Data collection

Outfitting your workers with smart helmets is an accurate, unobtrusive method for collecting all kinds of data about your workforce and what’s happening on job sites. Monitoring the health of your employees can improve their well-being and reduce your company’s healthcare costs. Additionally, healthy employees are more productive and efficient. Other data helps you track when your workers are at peak productivity and when their focus ebbs. Once you’ve identified any weak spots, you can take steps to boost motivation and optimize productivity.

Augmented-reality blueprints

With technologies such as augmented reality and multiple cameras and sensors, smart helmets allow users to pull down their visors; access a blueprint, architectural designs and work instructions; and see exactly where that design will be placed in the real world.

TipBottom line

Virtual-reality technology can help construction businesses by virtually recreating environments professionals could potentially work in, providing them with a wealth of information.

What are the pros and cons of smart helmets? 

Pros of smart helmets 

  • Preventive safety features: Smart helmets come with built-in safety features, such as the capability to detect potential crashes or collisions on a work site. Sensors on the helmet’s rim can measure the gradual decline of a person’s head, carefully track speed, and monitor the individual’s surroundings to assess probable risk. The helmet can even warn a person to slow down if they’re moving at a dangerous speed.
  • Emergency notifications: In case of an accident, a smart helmet can notify an individual or their colleagues that a crash is about to happen. By connecting to a mobile app, the helmet can also allow a person to send their current location or a message to contacts if they are injured. Using accident data, smart helmets can gather information about work performance, and this helps manufacturers to know which improvements to make.
  • Plan of action for accidents: If a work-site accident occurs, smart helmets’ cameras can trace a person’s bearings and help prevent head trauma. It can assess head and neck posture after a crash to identify any wounds and prevent neck injuries. The helmets save the data gathered by the sensors for further investigation. 

Cons of smart helmets 

  • They are distracting. Smart helmets, similar to cell phones and other recreational devices, allow users to play music and communicate with others, and these features may limit a worker’s focus and attention. Whether workers are driving or operating machinery, distraction is an important matter to consider with the use of smart helmets.
  • They are expensive. Smart helmets may be trendy and convenient, but their advantages come with a high price. The helmets are not only made with expensive materials but, with all of the high-tech components in their design, can cost $1,000 or more, making this product unaffordable for many customers.
  • They haven’t been brought to market. Smart helmets, though useful and ultramodern, have been manufactured mainly by startups that haven’t fully launched their products. Many of these prospective businesses emerged onto the playing field with fanfare, but their highly anticipated products fizzled out. Though there are smart helmets available for preorder, most companies haven’t actually delivered their official product. There are some exceptions, such as the company Jarvish, which sold its smart helmets outside the U.S. However, the United States hasn’t seen this technological dream come to fruition yet. In addition, many consumers prefer supporting well-known brands that have proved time and again that their products are safe, comfortable and high-quality. 

This technology is still in its infancy and undergoing extensive trials in multiple industries. What’s clear is that it has massive potential to transform the modern industrial workforce by streamlining processes, increasing safety and optimizing efficiency.

Sean Peek
Senior Analyst & Expert on Business Ownership
Sean Peek has written more than 100 B2B-focused articles on various subjects including business technology, marketing and business finance. In addition to researching trends, reviewing products and writing articles that help small business owners, Sean runs a content marketing agency that creates high-quality editorial content for both B2B and B2C businesses.
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