Voice activated hard hats coming to sites

Grant Prior 5 years ago
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Alexa-style voice activated technology is being developed for use in hard hats.

Construction workers will be able to speak commands like “show me building plans” which will prompt designs to be projected onto a helmet visor.

The voice-activated technology beams real-time audio instructions into an earpiece and augmented reality (AR) graphics onto the visor.

The system is being developed at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) using artificial intelligence.

Scientists hope the system will remove the need for walkie-talkies or consulting hard copies of blueprints.

The conversational AI technology is being developed alongside construction firms including Costain, Winvic, TerOpta, Enable My Team, and Geo Green Power.

Professor Lukumon Oyedele, who is Assistant Vice-Chancellor for Digital Innovation and Enterprise at UWE Bristol, said: “Until now, conversational AI has mostly been used in labs and controlled settings.

“Here we are bringing it into a construction environment, where workers are using their hands and need a quick and effective way to gather information.

“One of the many challenges is to ensure that the instructions are audible and stand out, given that there is a lot of background noise on a busy construction site.

“We are therefore looking at technologies including noise-cancellation to allow for this.”

The system will also provide information for project managers, who will be able to access co-workers’ timesheets and know where they are located on site at any given time, as well as the status of various elements of the project.

Professor Oyedele said: “We hope that this technology will augment workers’ capabilities, to make construction more efficient. It is about improving worker’s productivity, ensuring a faster delivery process and getting it right the first time by avoiding defects.”

Tim Reeve, Technical Director at Winvic said: “It’s a real honour to be working with Professor Oyedele on his research project. AI can have relevant applications in unexpected places, and Winvic is eager to test the voice-activated headset that our data is helping to create.

“As our main focus is meeting clients’ needs – from a practical delivery point of view and also commercially – it was a natural progression for Winvic to become an early adopter of state-of-the-art BIM technology and we remain committed to digitally transforming construction.”

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