Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 43 seconds

Amplified Mobility Platforms (AMPs) and exoskeletons were made famous by blockbuster science fiction films Avatar and Ironman. These technological wonders and other wearable tech are beginning to appear on construction jobsites.

Here’s an update on what’s trending in wearable tech:

  • Exoskeletons enhance worker strength and mobility in a variety of planes of movement: bending, lifting, twisting, and pull-push movements. When those movements are made repetitively on-the-job, there’s a high risk for acute injury not to mention the overall chronic toll it can take on the body. Hyundai, and Lowes in collaboration with Virginia Tech University, both have created harness style exoskeletons from flexible carbon fiber reinforcements. The carbon fiber shafts allow for flexion and the release of energy, which adds power to lifting movements while reducing strain on muscles and joins.
  • Bionic arms are a type of exoskeleton that allows workers to reduce stress and strain on limbs in situations where they have to hold heavy equipment for long periods of time and/or in unusual positions such as outstretched or overhead. Ekso bionics produces a wide variety of bionic devices built for the construction industry (PDF).
  • Gesture control from the palm of your hand—almost. The Myo armband wirelessly controls drone flight, PowerPoint presentations, remote controls, touch pads and other gadgets while remaining hands-free. The band slips over the forearm, just below the elbow. It detects five different hand gestures by reading electrical activity from the muscles and arm motion.
  • Head gear now goes beyond protecting the skull from injury and can display real-time video, work instructions, and show a crew member how his or her tasks impacts a project. The Smart Helmet by DAQRI enhances a worker’s situational awareness beyond the control room. Its features include thermal vision, guided work instructions, and remote expertise support in real-time between an expert and an onsite worker. With technologies such as these, the construction sector has viable solutions to increase worker safety, efficiency, and productivity.

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