There are big changes coming to construction sites across the UK thanks to new technology being developed at a British university.
Workers in the industry will soon be able to benefit from new voice-activated instructions delivered through their hard hats. The commands will be voice-activated, not unlike the services such as Alexa found in many UK homes.
This example of conversational AI is the product of a partnership between the University of the West of England and a group of construction companies funded by the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for research and innovation, which aims to strengthen UK business and science innovation.
The project is estimated to be costing £1.8m, and it is hoped it will be completed by January 2022 after a three-year period of research.
This kind of Building Information Modelling, or BIM technology, can be found at sites such as https://www.bimtech-eng.com/.
The technology will send aural instructions to workers via an earpiece, and augmented reality graphics of items such as blueprints will be displayed on the visors on their helmets. This will remove walkie-talkies from the workplace and obviate the need for hard copies of plans to be carried around the site.
Although this kind of technology has been widely used in laboratories and other controlled environments, this is the first time it has been adapted for construction sites. It is designed to help the workers carry out their tasks more quickly by providing information in real time.
Simple requests such as “Show me my plan” or “Tell me the construction sequence” will result in information being immediately transmitted to the worker who makes the request. There will also be a guidance system directing workers around the site they are working on as they move from task to task.
One of the problems to overcome is the noise typically associated with a building site. The audible instructions must be clearly delivered above the background sounds, and noise-cancellation technology will be a key part of the project.
The new system will also allow site managers to track the locations of workers and the status of the task they are undertaking.
The aim of the technology is to improve efficiency in the industry and improve workers’ output without their having to halt their work to seek further instructions.