5 Reasons Why Smart Glasses Are Becoming a Standard Part of PPE

Article by Johan De Geyter, CEO at Iristick

With the Industrial Internet of Things and Industry 4.0 in the works, we see machinery and equipment becoming increasingly connected. And PPE, or Personal Protective Equipment, is no exception.

I expect this innovation to open a whole new world for us very soon. PPE is already becoming much more than a single functional piece of ruggedized protective equipment. In addition to their standard benefit of offering protection from workplace hazards, this new type of PPE can assist frontline workers in a wide range of different ways with advanced cameras, microphones, sensors, and other built-in intelligent features. These so-called ‘smart PPE’ devices are increasingly gaining ground, in fact, their market is expected to grow by $3.27 billion between 2022 and 2031[1].

There is good reason for their increasing popularity: they improve workplace safety and drive efficiencies, not to mention the fact that they reduce human error, risk of incidents, operational downtime, and costs. Smart safety glasses make up a significant part of these devices that offer numerous benefits to their users in addition to personal eye protection. In this article I would like to look at some of the most significant benefits, namely:

  1. They provide both information and protection

Smart safety glasses add an interactive layer to the traditionally reactive pieces of PPE. Equipped with a camera, microphone and optical zoom, these devices enable workers to livestream what they see on-site to a remote expert. This way, they can receive guidance through a remote assistance application or a videoconferencing solution. Instead of sending out a specialist to do the maintenance on a windmill, for instance, the already available on-site technician can do the work, guided by the specialist remotely through the glasses.  At Iristick, we have seen this solution significantly reduce costs and eliminate travel time for our customers, while also decreasing equipment downtime as there is no need to wait for hours or days for the specialist to arrive.

Smart safety glasses like the Iristick.G2 and G2 PRO are second-generation smart glasses that leverage the processing power, long battery life and connectivity of quickly evolving smartphones. This way, they are lighter than smart glasses with built-in batteries and therefore more comfortable to wear. They are also able to use 5G connection and do not require Wi-Fi to operate on the field.

Smart glasses like Iristick.H1, on the other hand, are not safety glasses but they can be attached to safety helmets or hardhats, and this way be used as part of traditional PPE, creating a ‘smarter’ version. Since the Iristick.H1 smart glasses can be clipped onto the front of the safety equipment, there is still room left on the helmet to attach ear protection or wear safety glasses under it.  

The Iristick.H1 head-mounted smart glasses can be attached to the front of the helmet or hardhat, leaving room for ear protection and safety glasses under it.

       2. They can replace outdated paper-based workflows with hands-free digital solutions

Manual processes and paper-based workflows were the norms of PPE-based work setting of the past. However, smart glasses enable workers to access documents like Standard Operating Procedures digitally through the device, in their peripheral vision. Thanks to voice commands and speech-to-text functions, smart glasses allow workers to have both hands-free to do their jobs. This way, they can avoid the hassle of dealing with papers or handheld devices on-site, and they can focus on the job uninterrupted. With digital workflow software, smart glasses can also show step-by-step instructions on their display to guide workers in case of a more complex maintenance issue or technical problem.

Watch this video to find out how Iristick smart glasses can help create more efficient processes and a safer work environment in the airfreight industry

       3. They enhance worker safety

Utilizing their technology, smart safety glasses enable workers to be more responsive when a safety issue occurs or to prevent future safety risks[2]. As mentioned, smart glasses offer information to the workers digitally and without having to use their hands, thus emitting the need to use handheld devices or paper-based documents on-site, both of which can be a serious safety hazard in certain environments. In addition, making the glasses a standard part of the working equipment can have other benefits: incorporating the documentation, checklists or data needed for the job into the devices means that the workers simply cannot forget or work without their safety glasses. By providing these assets to workers digitally and hands-free, smart safety glasses not only make operations more efficient, but also reinforce worker safety.

Iristick smart safety glasses provide a safe and hands-free way for JBT’s technicians to connect to a remote expert for assistance. Watch this video to find out how.

     4. They facilitate the training of new personnel

Smart safety glasses can also play an important role in on-the-job training.Not only do they make it easier to gather and document data, audio, and visual assets to create instructional videos, but they also enable trainees to follow instructions in the corner of their eye while wearing the device. Trainees can stream their first-person perspective to a trained expert who can guide and supervise their work remotely. This is how they conduct trainings at EQUANS (formerly ENGIE), enabling the trainees to call a senior via the glasses when they need help performing a complicated task at a client. This allows them to learn more efficiently by performing the task themselves while having the security of an extra pair of eyes from a more experienced colleague watching along.  Our customers agree that this way, smart safety glasses can help significantly reduce the time it takes to train a new employee, which can be crucial for companies these days with the global labour shortage we are experiencing.

Digital work instructions on the display of the Iristick smart glasses

        5. They can be used in any industry

Smart safety glasses can provide personal eye protection to workers in numerous sectors, from the manufacturing industry to the oil and gas or the healthcare sector.

Alternatively, workers in more hazardous areas like construction sites can choose smart glasses that can be attached to the safety helmet or hardhat, such as the head-mounted Iristick.H1 smart glasses.

Iristick smart glasses are being used in various industries

For workers in hazardous areas, Ex certified options are also available. Smart glasses like the Visor-Ex®️ 01, co-created by ECOM Instruments – A Pepperl+Fuchs Brand, are built from intrinsically safe components, making them the perfect device for oil and gas companies or other firms operating in ATEX Zone 1/SGS Division 1. Similarly to the head-mounted Iristick.H1, the Visor-Ex®️ 01 can also be attached to a safety helmet, while leaving room for ear and eye protection as well.

Thanks to the numerous advantages they offer, I am certain that smart PPE will increasingly become a part of our work life. We see smart devices replacing the traditional models everywhere from consumer electronics to manufacturing. And why wouldn’t they, if they can do the job as well or even better than their traditional counterparts, but with additional benefits?

Smart safety glasses are an excellent example for this. Not only do they protect the eye area just as well as a pair of ‘normal’ safety glasses, but they also serve as a multi-functional smart technological device. Paired with remote assistance or videoconferencing software, they enable on-site personnel to solve maintenance issues faster, with a help of a remote expert, this way eliminating downtime and significantly reducing costs, leading to increased efficiencies and improved customer satisfaction.

We at Iristick certainly believe that this is the way forward, and we are more than happy to help you find the best solution to start your smart PPE journey. If you would like to find out more, you can always reach out to our team via the Iristick website or can follow us on LinkedIn.

[1]Smart PPE Market Growth Forecasts: A $3.27 Billion Market in 2031, with CAGR of 13.4%, Ameliorate Digital Consultancy Private Limited. https://www.globenewswire.com/en/news-release/2022/04/18/2424006/0/en/Smart-PPE-Market-Growth-Forecasts-A-3-27-Billion-Market-in-2031-with-CAGR-of-13-4.html

[2] The Future of PPE, EHS Today, 2021.  https://www.ehstoday.com/ppe/article/21180275/the-future-of-ppe