Here’s a chance to justify investing in wearable technology for work purposes. On Aug. 19, construction software developer Bridgit, based in Waterloo, Ontario, launched Groundbreaker, a beta testing program for architects and contractors unafraid to wear gesture control devices and smart glasses on the jobsite and test Bridgit’s flagship product, Closeout ($13 per user, per month; available for iOS, Android, and BlackBerry devices).
The mobile app allows architects and contractors to photograph, track, and notify project team members of construction deficiencies and punch list items on their smart phones and tablets. Launched in March, Closeout currently has more than 300 users.
While similar apps exist, such as those by PlanGrid and Newforma, Closeout leverages mobile technology beyond handheld devices. It now syncs not only with smart glasses but also Thalmic Labs’ Myo armband, which recognizes subtle hand and finger gestures through electromyography (EMG) sensors embedded in a slick cuff.
“[U]ntil now, the standard for smartglass input has been the built in audio commands,” said Mallorie Brodie, co-founder of Bridgit, in the press release. “As we continue to place our primary focus on ease of use, audio input just doesn’t cut it in terms of usability.”
With Closeout, Myo, and smart glasses such as Google Glass, users can currently take and mark up photographs, fast-scroll and select user contacts, send and receive notifications, and approve completed work, says Laura Brodie, Bridgit’s director of marking and communications. Future features include faster site walkthrough modes and punchlist item creation, she says, but advancements in wearable technology could soon make instant photo recognition of standard construction deficiencies and virtual plan mapping possible as well.
Architects and designers who are intrigued by the technology and undeterred by the inevitable on-site staring that occurs when they don Google Glass and gesture seemingly wildly in the air can sign up for Bridgit’s Groundbreaker program. For $1,499, participants will receive one Myo armband and access to Google Glass or another smart glasses product for app testing. They will also have opportunities to provide user feedback, suggest app features, and test products on site with Bridgit staff members. The participants’ companies will also have early access to future hardware releases during open-beta testing.
Applicants into the program will be vetted by Bridgit and accepted into the program on a rolling basis, Brodie says.
And, just for fun, here’s a video on other ways Myo’s armband can prove handy with other mobile apps.