Technology is redefining what is humanly possible. Personal computers, notebooks and smartphones have transformed the way we work. Today, augmented reality (AR) is boosting this transformation for workers in new environments. Microsoft’s Hololens and Daqri’s smart helmet and glasses have the potential to enhance workers where traditional computers haven’t been suited; like when hands are busy on an assembly line, or in harsh environments. But is there an element missing from the current way companies are approaching AR?
AR is most exciting when it goes beyond just being another screen. Daqri’s headgear allows you to see temperature through thermal imaging; it’s like giving the user an extra sense. Imagine if an IT technician could sense the strength of Wi-Fi through a building, or if a delivery driver can know which way is north. Can a plasterer sense when a wall is perfectly flush and can an electrician see current running through a cable? What if AR could enhance us in truly super human ways?
Current Augmented Reality products focus on layering information on to our vision, but for many tasks, this may not be appropriate. Think of a chef cutting food, a construction worker drilling into a wall or a lorry driver looking for traffic. In these cases, augmenting vision could be a hindrance or even hazardous. For some tasks and information, vision may simply not be the most natural interface. What is the best way to bring the benefits of computing to construction workers and how is it best to present this information?
The human sense of hearing allows us to filter and focus in on sounds. Whilst having a conversation in a busy room, we can filter out others and focus on the person we are speaking to. Our primary means of communicating with each other is through sound and Voice User Interfaces are gaining huge traction in the market (Amazon Echo, Google Home), but HEXA believes we can go a step further and Augment Sound as a way of computing. Working with HEXA and professionals in the construction industry we have developed a modern solution to a real problem.
HEXA is the next generation of ear defenders for construction workers. A personal intelligent safety device that protects more than just your ears. Smart filters protect you from harmful sounds but also amplify useful sounds, like colleagues talking or playing music you like.
HEXA monitors your health and alertness whilst also monitoring your environment, alerting you to hazards like a gas leak or a colleague working above you. HEXA also offers peace of mind in an emergency, alerting help if its needed. Unlike other safety equipment, HEXA enhances rather than hinders productivity by being comfortable, intelligent, and discreet. Peace of mind, more productive, enjoy work.
HEXA intelligently protects you from harmful noise levels without dangerously isolating you from your environment, so you can comfortably hear your colleague speak while he is using a load jack hammer. HEXA learns how and when you want sound controlled allowing for vastly improved communication with multiple HEXA users. For example, allowing a construction worker to direct a crane driver.
HEXA has an emergency detection notification system. An accelerometer detects falls and impacts, and an in-ear sensor monitors you biometrics. If an accident is detected, emergency contacts and first responders are notified of you location, condition and medical history. In another scenario where a colleague has had an accident, HEXA's voice assistant can guide you through first aid and contact help.
HEXA has a gas sensor (Methane, Carbon Monoxide, Hydrogen Sulphide) and particle sensor in the band. If a gas pipe is accidentally cut or if dust levels build up without you noticing, HEXA will alert you to the exposure. With multiple HEXA users, proximity features can alert you to take care if a colleague is detected working above or below (Bluetooth LE).
At Design Partners, we are continuing to explore HEXA and Augmented Reality. We want to empower tomorrow’s workers by using the latest technology to address their needs and motivations. If you are working in a similar area or are interested in HEXA please get in touch.