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Last edited 09 Jul 2021
Wearable technology is an article of clothing or a device that can be worn (or possibly carried as an implant) in order to transmit certain types of information. Sometimes referred to as wearables, these devices are generally used for health-related purposes.
Examples include smart watches (which can record various metrics of the wearer’s health and behaviour), smart glasses (which can provide visual imagery), smart clothing (which can provide heating, enhanced visibility or greater sensitivity), smart hearing aids and even smart jewellery (which can, for example, issue alerts to the wearer).
 Wearables in construction and the built environment
For construction purposes, wearable technology can be used in conjunction with navigation systems to assist with management of people, tools, equipment and so on. Animals are also able to wear devices or carry implants that can, in some cases, be relevant to the built environment. For example, a guide dog can be fitted with a wearable device to help assist its companion in and around the workplace.
Wearables can also be used in personnel distancing systems (known as PDS) which are proximity warning devices that can be fastened to an arm, belt, hard hat lanyards or wrist band. Once an exclusion zone has been programmed, these tags will sound an alarm and vibrate if the wearer gets too close to another wearer, dangerous plant, lorries and so on.
This form of wearable technology may be useful in warehouses and shops, allowing staff in a highly mobile environment to focus on their jobs and let the PDS alert them if distancing measures are being breached.
There is substantial potential for the deployment of wearables, but there are also significant technical, social and legal challenges.
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