A smart helmet combines the traditional safety structure of a hard hat with leading-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 jobsite conditions with dust, debris and an array of 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 the smart technology housed inside as well as your head. This advanced wearable technology has robust sensors and augmented reality features designed to increase safety and productivity.
The Android-based smart helmet from Daqri, for instance, connects people, data and machines, with its pull-down smart visor. Or the Ahead attachment can connect to an existing helmet to turn it into a smart helmet. Such devices could become powerful tools in construction, engineering, manufacturing and other industrial settings, but they are so new a lot of testing still needs to be done.
Optional headbands in the Daqri sit within the smart helmet to check a user’s heart rate, skin temperature, blood oxygen saturation and brain activity. Therefore, focus and cognitive states, as well as vital statistics, are monitorable for every helmet user. The data is tracked in real time and is available via a central hub. This technology can provide early warning signs of potentially dangerous conditions and locations, and can identify when a user is too tired or unfocused to safely perform their tasks.
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Hands-free visual data
Working in tight spaces or at high altitude while carrying auxiliary devices like tablets poses safety risks. However, it’s often necessary for workers to carry these tools to access or record data, but with a smart helmet, that information can be accessed via a visor, meaning workers can keep their hands free for balance and performing their duties.
For workers on construction sites and others who work around heavy machinery, there's a significant risk of accidents. Smart helmets can offer forward- and rear-facing, depth-sensing cameras. If they sense dangerously close proximity to a nearby object, they send out an audible and/or visual alarm.
Having data overlay or visualization gives your workers access to real-time data, reducing the need for workers to travel back and forth to computer terminals. For example, if a user has to restart a piece of machinery or restart a system, with a smart helmet, they don’t need to go back to the office to get a status report — they can get it right there on their visor.
Thermal vision can greatly increase worker 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 for the worker from your central monitoring system.
Access live support
Waiting for an expert can be annoyingly time-consuming, resulting in a loss of efficiency and drop in productivity. If a worker decides to attempt a task for which they're unqualified without guidance, disaster can ensue. 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.
Outfitting your workers with smart helmets provides an accurate, unobtrusive method of collecting all kinds of data about your workforce and what’s happening on jobsites. Monitoring the health of your employees can help improve employee well-being and reduce health care 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’re able to take steps to boost motivation and optimize productivity.
Augmented reality blueprints
With the presence of augmented reality technology 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.
This technology is still in its infancy and is undergoing extensive trials in multiple industries. What’s clear is that it has massive potential to transform the modern workforce, streamlining processes, increasing safety and optimizing efficiency.