Wearables, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Integrated Project Delivery, and Artificial Intelligence

AuthorBy Jessica E. Courtway
Published in The Construction Lawyer, Volume 40, Number 4, Fall 2020. © 2020 American Bar Association. Reproduced with permission. All rights reserved. This information or any portion
thereof may not be copied or disseminated in any form or by any means or stored in an electronic database or retrieval system without the express written consent of the American Bar Association.
Wearables, Augmented and Virtual Reality,
Integrated Project Delivery, and Articial
By Jessica E. Courtway
Jessica E. Courtway is an associate with Greensfelder,
Hemker & Gale, P.C., in St. Louis, Missouri. She would
like to thank Anthony Colonna of Rugo Stone, LLC,
for his assistance in presenting the paper from which
this article was adapted at the Forum 2020 Midwinter
Technological advances
over the past two decades
have touched nearly every
aspect of day-to-day life.
Whether it’s self-driving cars,
drone-controlled same-day
package delivery, or facial
recognition technology, the
impact of technologies such
as articial intelligence and
virtual reality is immeasur-
able. Unsurprisingly, these
technologies have also
made their way into the
construction industry. Cutting-edge technology such
as sensor-equipped boots and vests, augmented reality
goggles, and modeling assisted with articial intelligence
promise to shape the industry’s efciency and safety stan-
dards as they are currently known.
In an industry as competitive as construction, keeping
up to date on the latest technological offerings can be criti-
cal. Equally important, however, is understanding the risks
and liabilities associated with each of these offerings. This
is important both from a risk management and insurance
standpoint and from a compliance standpoint because
many new technologies implicate regulations like OSHA,
FLSA, and the ADA. This article will discuss new devel-
opments in four distinct genres of technology—wearables,
virtual and augmented reality, articial intelligence, and
integrated project delivery—and provide a broad overview
of the risks and challenges presented by each.
One emerging technology already having an impact on
the construction industry is wearable technology. The
key elements of wearables are that they (1) are carried
or worn on—or even embedded in—the person of the
user and (2) track and store data about the user. The
ways in which wearables measure and monitor users and
their environment are potentially innite, but the most
common sensors employed in wearables include GPS,
accelerometers and gyroscopes, electrodes, thermometers,
and proximity sensors.1 The data from these sensors can,
in turn, be used to measure things such as location, move-
ment, heart rate, and weather.2 Many wearables allow the
user to interface with them directly, commonly through
a touchscreen, speech, or haptic feedback.3 Some wear-
ables, however, are purely tracking devices, and the data
they gather can only be viewed and analyzed using other
Wearables are now ubiquitous among consumers.
Over 60 million Americans over the age of 18—nearly
a quarter of the adult population—are expected to use
wearables regularly in 2020.
As the number of people
using wearables grows, so too does the sophistication
of the wearables themselves. While early growth in the
wearables market was centered around simple, relatively
affordable tness trackers, consumers are now turning
increasingly toward smartwatches, many of which offer
nearly all the capabilities of a smartphone in wearable
form. More capable devices mean new applications. In
addition to counting steps and tracking bike rides, wear-
ables can now measure air quality, display information
in augmented reality, and even detect early signs of can-
cer.5 Wearables are taking hold in the workplace as well,
with nearly 70 percent of employers with more than fty
employees offering wellness programs,6 most of which
include wearables as a component.7
As wearables are put to increasingly sophisticated uses,
truly commercial applications—ones in which wearables
are employed as specialized tools in the company’s core
business—are on the rise. The construction industry is
ripe for commercial application of wearables. Many of
the issues that consume the time and attention of manag-
ers in the construction industry, such as safety, personnel
management, and compliance, are areas where wearables
can shine. For example, wearables can be used to detect
and warn of safety hazards in dangerous environments,
track personnel at hectic construction sites, and provide
data that can demonstrate regulatory compliance (and
identify areas for improvement).8 It should be of little
surprise, then, that many in the construction industry
are already turning to wearables.9
Jessica E. Courtway

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