Move over, smartwatch: The smart hard hat is here

Sure, the new Apple Watch looks cool… but it might not be practical for the gritty conditions on a jobsite.

What if you could have smart technology that’s protected by a piece of equipment you already have to wear on the job? Say hello to the “smart” hard hat.

At least two different teams are racing to bring the smart hard hat to market. Will you be wearing one soon?

Product image provided by Daqri
Product image provided by Daqri

Daqri

Los Angeles-based startup Daqri may beat competitors to market with their Android version of the smart hard hat.

Packed with sensors and a heads-up visor display, the Daqri model looks a bit like a souped-up bicycle helmet. Under the hood, though, it’s much more than just head protection.

This hard hat’s display can superimpose instructions and 4D models over the real-world jobsite, giving its wearer a powerful view of the whole project. It’s also loaded with sensors to let you know if conditions are too dangerous, and can pair up with a smartwatch or phone if you need it to.

Daqri plans to release its smart hard hat in October, and they haven’t announced a firm price yet. But company president Andy Lowery told the Wall Street Journal that its difference in price point from Google Glass could be equivalent to the difference between a military-spec laptop and a consumer model.

That means it’ll likely cost thousands of dollars—making it a hefty, but potentially worthwhile, investment for anyone who need the hands-free computing power.

Atheer

Another company hoping to break new ground in the smart hard helmet market is Atheer. Originally, Atheer intended to create a crowdfunded competitor to Google Glass—a set of augmented reality glasses aimed at the consumer market.

But then they had a better idea. Co-founder Allen Yang told Gigaom, “We want to introduce a new category of electronics to nurses, to doctors, to construction workers.”

What does this “new category of electronics” look like? Well, initially, it’ll look just like your standard hard hat…with a few modifications. For one thing, it will come with a visor equipped with augmented reality capability. That means you can check out blueprints, jobsite photos, and even check your email—all while keeping your hands free.

This new hard hat design has two big advantages over existing construction technology: First, you won’t have to carry around another piece of equipment, like a ruggedized tablet or laptop.

More importantly, unlike delicate consumer-grade gear, this equipment will be designed with construction site conditions in mind.

Atheer’s hard hat is only about halfway through its development, and specific features and prices aren’t available yet.

Like any new hardware, the first generation of smart hard hats may end up being pricey and rough around the edges, but keep an eye on this space. Soon you could use a single device for protecting your head and getting important information to and from the right people.

Top photo courtesy of Daqri

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