Augmented Reality & Smart Hard Hats: Building Virtual Reality Over Real World Construction

Hard hats were invented to protect the heads of construction workers, but who would have imagined that now, these helmets can give their wearers superpowers?

RMIT AUSTRALIA: the smarter the hat, the safer the worker.

The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) have developed a system of sensors that can be embedded onto helmets, safety glasses and boots in order to improve the safety of construction workers.

For example, the sensors can alert workers if a risk of heatstroke can occur by monitoring the temperature, heart rate and the external conditions. Furthermore, the system can send the data to the site management allowing them to consider if and when the workers should have a break.

Beyond the safety: the rise of Augmented Reality

augmented reality technology

Augmented reality is a new technology based on graphics, audio and other sensory enhancements, that merges virtual reality and the real world by displaying digital content connected to physical locations and objects.

Its usage is not something new for the military, especially for aircraft, in the form of “heads up” displays in the cockpit or head-mounted displays. Recently the US Navy’s Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) developed “The Divers Augmented Vision Display” (DAVD): this wearable device is a diver’s helmet with a display that helps divers see in near-zero visibility.

Even drones are now equipped with AR devices and there are many potential benefits for the construction industry. By navigating the drone to a specific GPS location, the AR image appears: in this way it is easier for engineers and architects to create a simulation of the building and see it on the ground in real-time.

For us common mortals, there are applications for cell phones that can be considered as primitive versions of augmented reality which allow, for example, to watch a movie trailer by pointing the smartphone camera at a poster or animate a static print with enhanced digital content such as animations, videos and links.

More specific apps for architecture and constructions allow project teams to build plans in 3D and allow users to navigate the project through the app.

(If you are curious about these apps, there is a list of the most popular ones at the end of this post.)

AR smart hard hats by Daqri

Daqri is a LA-based augmented reality company that developed an augmented reality smart hard hat called the “Daqri Smart Helmet, which is equipped with a sixth-generation Intel Core M7 processor. It’s an advanced sensing technology with a combination of cameras that can capture 360-degree views. Within the camera, intelligent software called “Intellitrack” captures, processes and displays data and information about the user’s surroundings in real-time. The information collected includes important statistics such as valve readings and thermal data. It also stores safety guidelines and other work information.


The company also created separate computer software called the “Daqri 4D Studio”, which syncs with the headgear to project 4D data directly onto an HD hands-free display beneath a protective visor.

Another important feature of the device is that it can be integrated with building information modelling (BIM) software to show workers the insides of structural elements of the building.

smart hard hat daqri carey london blog

As the company states: “the smart helmet knows how you move through space, and it can map the environment and start to create a 3D reconstruction of a facility. When you have multiple people wearing the smart helmets, they share that information and you build an entire model of the facility with that combined data.”

The helmet has been in a pilot phase with some major corporations, including Autodesk, GE, Topcon, Hyperloop and KSP Steel and will probably be available for purchase in the first quarter of this year.

Augmented Reality Apps

Layar (Android, iOS)

Blippar (Android, iOS)

Aurasma (Android, iOS)

Mybrana (Android, iOS)

Yelp (Android, iOS)

iOnRoad Augmented Driving (Android, iOS)

Wikitude (Android, iOS)

Theodolite (iOS)