What's the Latest Development?
Norwegian research organization SINTEF has created a prototype of a "smart" work jacket with sensors that can monitor the wearer's body temperature and other vital signs along with body position and movement. The data generated is sent via Bluetooth to a computer or smartphone, where a supervisor can use it to determine whether the worker needs to stop for the day. The sensors are designed to work without maintaining direct contact with skin, and they are connected via flexible conductive threads that are sewn into the fabric.
What's the Big Idea?
It's part of the organization's ColdWear project, which was created to address the challenges workers faced on oil rigs and other places where they were exposed to extreme weather. Frostbite, dry air, and sun glare can all be dangerous, and because the body uses so many calories trying to stay warm, it takes longer to do even simple tasks. There's also the issue of errors caused by workers who may be unaware that they are losing their dexterity, for which SINTEF researcher Øystein Wiggen suggests a kind of traffic-light system "in which green means 'OK', yellow means 'take care' and red indicates that 'there is danger afoot'."
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