Workers of the World, Don’t Unite Computer vision helped workers maintain social distance.

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1 min read tool recognizing when workers get too close to each other

Computer vision is helping construction workers keep their social distance.

What’s new:, a service that focuses on construction sites, offers a tool that recognizes when workers get too close to each other. The tool sends social distancing warnings and reports to construction superintendents.

How it works: Supervisors receive an alert when its neural nets spot workers breaking social distancing guidelines set by the U.S. Occupational Health & Safety Administration. They can also watch an annotated video feed on desktop or mobile devices and receive a daily summary of on-site social distancing metrics.

  • The company added social-distance recognition to its existing computer vision platform. The new features extend the platform’s earlier ability to detect hazards such as a worker nearing the edge of an elevated platform. It also identifies risks like puddles, piles of clutter, and ladders.
  • The platform recognizes contextual clues to identify the task an individual is performing and whether the worker is wearing appropriate safety gear. It can recognize hard hats, work gloves, and protective glasses. The company aims to add face masks soon.

Behind the news: AI increasingly is taking on workplace safety functions. Amazon plans to monitor social distancing in its warehouses using computer vision, according to Reuters. Landing AI, which helps traditional companies implement AI, released a similar tool last week. (Disclosure: Andrew Ng is CEO of Landing AI.)  

Why it matters: In response to Covid-19, 13 U.S. states have suspended certain kinds of building projects, and three have shut down construction entirely. Technology that helps workers maintain a safe distance could help keep them working through the pandemic.

We’re thinking: These systems will need to be rolled out with deep respect for privacy rights, and the specific features that our community chooses to build or not to build will have an important impact.


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