With construction accidents steadily increasing each year, wearable technology has the potential to make a huge difference. In fact, in recent studies from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, workers were outfitted with specific wearable technology with surprising results.
The tactile system was designed to notify workers who were near the operation of heavy machinery. It vibrates to deliver information through signals sent by way of vibrating motors.
Latest Wearable Technology
This research was conducted by the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR). Workers wore waist belts that had vibrating motors. Each time a worker got close to any type of heavy equipment, the belt vibrated to warn the worker. This gave them time to move to a safer location. It also alerted the worker who might have been otherwise busy with some task.
Could Prevent Top 4 Construction Accidents
Some of the construction injuries that could be prevented include struck-by and caught-between injuries. These are two of the Top Four construction injuries most commonly seen on a job site.
Those participating in the study had their eyes covered and relied only on the vibrating waistbelt to tell them of nearby potential hazards. Participants completed their work assigned with 95% accuracy according to the study. And more importantly, they were kept out of harm’s way due to the technology.
The UNLV study found that 10 vibrating motors on a belt were too many. The wearer actually received a better signal with fewer motors that were spaced further apart. The motors were used to create a tactile based language that can tell workers the location of the hazard and the severity of it. It can also identify the type of equipment working nearby. This type of invention could result in saving the lives of construction workers each year and reducing injuries.
Neuroscience Lends a Hand
One of the researchers, Jee Park, said that he learned about “sensory substitution” from an old neuroscience research project. Park is a professor of environmental construction and engineering at UNLV.
He commented, saying, “We often have problems of communication and becoming aware of hazards, especially in harsh environments. To me, this looked to be a great way to overcome this problem.”
He and his team believed that data from old neuroscience research could be applied to construction accidents. The belt is very similar to any other belt worn by construction workers, making it user-friendly. Though a prototype does exist, the research team is working on how to make the technology more affordable. They’re seeking new funding from the National Science Foundation and local construction companies.
The prototype belt is called the Embedded Safety Communication System (ESCS).
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