Construction Dive's Gadget Check series focuses on new technology products and their potential applications in the construction industry.
Facebook is breaking into the smart glasses game. The social media giant announced last week it has partnered with Ray-Ban to produce Ray-Ban Stories.
The glasses, which cost $299, are capable of capturing and storing photos and video, playing music and making phone calls. The new glasses don't have virtual reality or augmented reality capabilities, and are geared mostly to enhancing the wearer's social media presence and experience, but they could have useful implications for jobsite work as well.
Ray-Ban Stories come with two 5-megapixel cameras on the front, next to each of the lenses, speakers located on the temple that function as open-air headphones, a touchpad and three microphones. The photos and videos are stored on the glasses until the wearer transfers them to a companion smartphone app, where they can then share them.
The applications for construction pros aren't yet clear, especially since Facebook isn't the first social media or internet giant to launch smart glasses. Google attempted in 2013, and Snapchat in 2016, and both failed to catch on widely. Snapchat's Spectacles are in their third generation, offering the capability to capture and post videos to the image-sharing app. Google Glass is no longer commercially available, and the last update for the product launched in 2019.
Nevertheless, the glasses' image-capturing capabilities could have applications in the construction industry. During the pandemic, project owners and contractors didn't always have direct access to their jobsites, which sometimes were on the other side of the country.
As a result, contractors like Clark Construction turned to simple videoconferencing to get a glimpse at the as-built jobsite. With good lighting, a strong signal and a powerful video platform, stakeholders could get a decent view of the jobsite.
At the same time, BIM technologies have improved, allowing multiple, carefully captured photographs to be stitched together to form a virtual tour of a site.
Meanwhile, more municipalities, including New York City, have turned to virtual inspections, as a means of keeping jobsites running while protecting workers and inspectors from exposure to COVID-19.
Empowering a foreman with the tools to take those pictures or videos via a wearable could make a huge difference. The question is whether they're cost effective and easy enough to use so that construction pros will give them a try.