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Wearable technology is creating a new working environment for many employees.
Los Angeles-based Daqri L.L.C. describes its smart helmet as “a visionary tool for the 21st-century worker.”
The helmet, a wearable device equipped with augmented reality technology, can provide workers with 3-D information, data visualization and work instructions that appear on transparent stereoscopic optical displays right before their eyes in a factory, lab or plant.
Gaia Dempsey, co-founder and vice president of corporate affairs at Daqri, said the helmet and Daqri’s smart glasses are part of the company’s plan to bring augmented reality “into the workplace in a way that is meaningful, that fits with existing workflows and molds to the way people are already working.”
The device helps employees make critical decisions more safely, Ms. Dempsey said. “You know you’re plugged into the most important data and all the critical business information that you need to make decisions in the moment. With step-by-step AR work instructions, nothing is falling through the cracks. I’m not relying on my fallible memory from training I had a year and a half ago. The information I need is right in my view, in an intuitive and interactive interface.”
Wearable devices can help improve safety for a vast number of workers, said Eric Martinez, CEO and founder of Modjoul Inc. in Clemson, South Carolina. His company’s smart belt collects such data as a worker’s location, motion and environment, including temperature, and can be used in a variety of workplaces ranging from warehouses to airlines to retail.
“Most of the wearables you see are on a hard hat or a vest, and that kind of limited the size of the market,” he said. “There are 60 million blue-collar workers in the U.S. It’s not who puts on a hard hat or a vest every day, but who wears a belt every day. Our electronics are in the buckle that we designed, we use almost the entire real estate of the belt with sensors.”
Mr. Martinez is former head of claims at American International Group Inc. — “I know a little bit about the claims side,” he quipped.
“I think you’re going to see wearables become ubiquitous in a lot of labor jobs,” said Chad Hollingsworth, CEO and co-founder of Triax Technologies Inc. in Norwalk, Connecticut. “We’re really focused on construction. I think you’re going to see a lot of different wearables looking at different things.”
Triax developed the spot-r wearable system, which is a 2017 Business Insurance Innovation Awards winner that provides a worker’s location, identifies slips, trips and falls, and emits a warning in the event of an evacuation.
The surge in development and use of wearable technology is helping employers protect workers and encourage healthy behavior, but it’s also raising privacy concerns.