How Can Augmented Reality Improve Worker Safety?
When we think of augmented reality (AR), the focus is usually on efficiency. AR has the potential to help us do work faster and better. But what about safer? Safety isn’t always talked about in the same sentence as AR, but it’s well worth the mention.
AR has the power to make manufacturing operations much safer in a myriad of ways, harnessing distributed data to improve real-time awareness. And although safety glasses will never go out of style, it won’t be long until there’s an AR complement to them and any other type of safety-related wearable.
AR is coming fast
AR has been a talked-about technology for years, and it seems like 2020 is finally the year we’ll see widespread adoption in factories. Many manufacturers already deploy AR tech with smartphones and tablets, but wearables are primed for an AR complement. AR glasses and goggles, watches, heads-up interfaces for machines, and more are likely to come to life in factories soon. Their purpose? Improve worker safety.
Safety is a growing concern
As factories get smarter, they’re also able to get safer, and AR is a shining example. AR technology has exceptional potential to improve safety in a number of ways. Here are a few of the most practical and possible features for AR tech in 2020:
- Reminder of safety standards. Imagine performing electrical maintenance on a machine with an AR diagram to show the step-by-step repair. Not only that, but the goggles worn by the worker also have a gentle flashing indicator showing the wire containing the high-voltage current.
- Real-time safety monitoring. Think about AR imaging that shows the real-time temperature of a seal. Before the tech performs work, they can see how hot the seal is and its rate of cooling. They know seal A is too hot to touch right now, but seal C is cool and safe.
- Heads-up alerts for safety. For work in environments with hazardous chemicals, safety glasses may give a heads-up alert if they detect a chemical change in the air or a ppm value that’s unsafe. The employee is pinged instantly, so they can get to safety or take appropriate action.
- Quick reference of safe operating practices. Not sure if it’s safe to use part X in machine Y? Pull up an AR reference of the machine’s schematics, look up the component tolerances, and act accordingly with confidence. Employees won’t be in any danger of compromised machine function because they won’t have to make assumptions.
These are just a handful of safety-specific benefits affiliated with AR tech. For wearables especially, the real-time and heads-up benefits of AR could be a paradigm shift for the industry.
Adopting Augmented Reality Safety Training
AR’s rise to prominence as an investment in safety will be rapid. For one, AR technology is built on the back of devices and products already integrated into the modern factory. Second, AR is naturally intuitive and has already seen quick adoption in its limited availability. Finally, the cost projections for AR technology are poised to be much lower than other next-gen factory innovations.
Considering the practical applications of AR technology and the ongoing push for better workplace safety, it’s a match made in heaven.