North Star BlueScope Steel, a steel producer for global building and construction industries, today announced that it is applying IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) technology and wearable devices to pioneer novel approaches to help protect workers in extreme environments. The IBM Employee Wellness and Safety Solution, a research project that analyzes data collected from sensors in workers’ wearables, provides data to North Starmanagement in real time when the technology senses potentially problematic conditions.
Employees working in extreme environments face a daily risk from conditions that include everything from high heat and toxic gas to open flames and heavy-machinery accidents. Overexertion and falls account for more than $25 billion in U.S. workers’ compensation costs a year, according to the Liberty Mutual Research Institute 2014 Workplace Safety Index1, yet there is currently no practical way to verify that mandatory safety controls and personal protective equipment are being used in hazardous environments. In fact, nearly 3 million nonfatal occupational injuries were recorded in 20142.
“Our global economy relies on hundreds of millions of workers who do their jobs under extreme environmental conditions, and now we are exploring ways to apply the Internet of Things and cognitive computing to help organizations prevent accidents and to keep their employees safer,” said Harriet Green, general manager, IBM Watson IoT, Commerce and Education. “We use the IoT to gather, integrate and analyze sensor data from wearable devices. When coupled together with innovative cognitive capabilities and data from important external sources such as the environment and weather, it creates enormous potential for better managing health, wellness and safety to truly help transform the way these vital workers perform their jobs.”
The Chem-Phys patch monitors both biochemical and electric signals in the human body at the same time — a first
Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed the first flexible wearable device capable of monitoring both biochemical and electric signals in the human body. The Chem-Phys patch records electrocardiogram (EKG) heart signals and tracks levels of lactate, a biochemical that is a marker of physical effort, in real time. The device can be worn on the chest and communicates wirelessly with a smartphone, smart watch or laptop. It could have a wide range of applications, from athletes monitoring their workouts to physicians monitoring patients with heart disease.
Nanoengineers and electrical engineers at the UC San Diego Center for Wearable Sensors worked together to build the device, which includes a flexible suite of sensors and a small electronic board. The device also can transmit the data from biochemical and electrical signals via Bluetooth.
Nanoengineering professor Joseph Wang and electrical engineering professor Patrick Mercier at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering led the project, with Wang’s team working on the patch’s sensors and chemistry, while Mercier’s team worked on the electronics and data transmission. They describe the Chem-Phys patch in the May 23 issue of Nature Communications.
“One of the overarching goals of our research is to build a wearable tricorder-like device that can measure simultaneously a whole suite of chemical, physical and electrophysiological signals continuously throughout the day,” Mercier said. “This research represents an important first step to show this may be possible.”