- Balfour Beatty US is using augmented reality (AR) eyeglasses on jobsites for safety and other inspections, meetings with clients and to work with drones, a company official told Construction Dive.
- The company recently purchased three pairs of Vuzix Blade smart AR glasses that have a built-in camera that provides a view of jobsite walkthroughs or inspections, a boon during a time when travel restrictions can keep stakeholders away from a project. The smart glasses connect to hot spots on tablets or smartphones.
- The contractor is using the smart glasses on Texas jobsites, according to senior technology specialist Cameron Wahl, and has seen immediate benefits on RFIs and inspections.
Balfour Beatty has used the glasses on jobsites for about two months, Wahl said, and is still early in the implementation process. They have already made a difference in the company’s ability to respond to an increase in RFIs from owners and inspectors, who can no longer visit jobsites due to COVID-19 fears.
The glasses, which cost $900 a pair according to the manufacturer, reduce the need for formal write-ups, and the shortened response time to RFIs has been the biggest benefit, Wahl said.
The Blade’s hands-free operation is crucial to safety, Wahl said. While some contractors have begun to do video inspections, they’re often done on a hand-held smartphone, which he said can be dangerous on an active jobsite.
Wahl said he’s finding other uses for his pair, including connecting with a drone to maintain a sight line on it, while still viewing what the drone sees.
The technology is not without challenges, Wahl said, including ensuring connectivity remains strong. Most of the time, however, connection disruptions can be fixed by using the glasses’ recording function, he said.
In addition, Wahl said the adoption of the glasses, or any new tech for that matter, can be challenging when project managers have done work one way for decades. He said without the coronavirus, the firm likely wouldn’t have bought the glasses when it did