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How to Create Successful Intelligent Workwear

 

High interest in smart workwear

 

Within the past year, Movesense team has been approached by several workwear companies. Most of them have the same general request: “It would very interesting to have some intelligence in our products”.

Movesense platform enables an endless amount of intelligent solutions also in the workwear market. However, for any valuable solution, there must be a concrete need or a problem that is solved. With this article, we outline different opportunities that Movesense offers for creating smart workwear. We also present approaches that companies can use to turn their ideas into tangible concepts and commercial products.

Movesense platform overview

First, a short recap of the Movesense platform. The core of the physical platform is the Movesense sensor. It is a tiny, battery operated device that measures heart rate, ECG, temperature and movement with 9-axis motion sensing. It transmits the data via Bluetooth to a phone or a smartwatch.

The sensor is attached to its measuring location on a person, clothing or equipment, with the Movesense snap connector. The connector exists in two versions. The smart connector has an individual ID chip that provide the sensor with awareness of its attaching location, and the plain one just holds the sensor in place. Through the connection, the sensor can also read external temperature sensors that can be wired to peripheral locations e.g. embedded in textiles.

The digital side of the platform includes a set of tools to build applications that utilize the sensor data. The heart of the platform is an open API for reading all measurement data from the sensor and programming of the sensor with custom firmware for unique user benefits. A collection of code samples for the sensor and a mobile app with open source code support creating custom apps.

With these building blocks and a creative mind, it is possible to develop highly valuable solutions for the workwear market – and for many other markets too.

 

Start from the user

 

The development of a new product concept should always start from the end user. Who is the target user? What is the value that we want to deliver to the user? What are the needs and problems that the user wants to solve?

With workwear, we can identify at least three user categories:

The workwear company itself. They might want to better manage their inventory, get detailed information of the use of each piece of clothing they supply to their customers, position their brand as an innovator, or something else.

Customer companies, who are outfitting their employees with workwear. They have numerous needs that are often specific to each company. The needs vary depending on the field of business, type of facility, type of work, number of employees, etc. We will discuss these needs in more detail later.

For a workwear company, it is extremely important to recognize and deeply understand these needs in order to be able to address them with innovative solutions. Ideally, a customer company should always be somehow involved in a development project. In the end, they are the ones who should be willing to pay for the added value that the new solution is delivering.

The third level are the employees of a customer company. They are the ones who are actually wearing those intelligent workwear solutions. They should see and feel the value of the new solution through added comfort, improved safety, more efficient work, or some other tangible benefit that make them excited about the new solution.

 

Potential benefits

 

As it comes to the benefits for the customer company, here are a few areas that we have identified very potential for Movesense integration in workwear.

Employee identification

With the individual ID connector embedded in workwear, Movesense sensor can detect when and how a specific piece of apparel is used. The ID can also be associated to an employee. This allows for instance the circulation of sensors between different users.

Access control

The sensor has an individual ID as well. The ID and the Bluetooth signal of the sensor can be used to manage access to specific areas or the amount of people in restricted areas, to name a few examples.

Workplace safety

There are many ways to use the sensors for added safety. Combined with access control, it could ensure that employees are wearing required safety gear in risk areas. The wireless feature of the sensor could serve for collision prevention in areas where pedestrians and vehicles may cross.

Indoor positioning

Thanks to its low-power wireless transmission, the sensor can be used as a positioning tag in Bluetooth based indoor positioning systems. The signal can include sensor data or estimates of the user’s status, for instance related to working conditions or workload.

Monitoring working conditions

With the internal temperature sensor and the possibility to connect a network of external temperature sensors, Movesense could individually monitor the working conditions of an employee. It could also track vibrations, impacts, and other effects of the environment on a user.

Workload estimation

Movesense can evaluate workload through many different parameters. This information can be used to optimize both working and rest. Heart rate tells about physical exertion level and heart rate variation reveals symptoms of stress. Movement intensity is another way to track physical load. With more detailed movement analysis, it’s possible to monitor the load of repetitive movement.

Ergonomics

Movement analysis and tracking of body posture help to identify injury risks, to improve working methods, and to improve employee well-being. Detailed, employee-level information on workload, ergonomics and working conditions allow companies to make work safer, more comfortable, less stressing, and more productive.

Evaluation and training of working techniques

Detection of movement patterns, motion trajectories, and repetitive movement is a way to asses working techniques. It can be used also for technique training and optimizing movements.

Collaboration & group dynamics

Monitoring the movement of several employees simultaneously opens interesting opportunities to analyze group dynamics, optimize tasks that require seamless cooperation, and to balance workload within a group.

Usage statistics of apparel & gear

Coming back to the starting point, equipping workwear with sensors gives interesting insights into the use of specific piece of apparel of equipment. This could be useful for both the workwear brand, its customer company, and an individual employee.

 

Getting started

 

Do you have a concrete need in your company that could be solved with smart workwear? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Movesense team via info@movesense.com. We have a network of partners who can help you with the project – both workwear brands and software experts.

The Movesense platform enables fast prototyping and concept testing in the field without an expensive development project. This allows agile iteration of the concept and efficient improvement of the user benefits before an actual product decision.

As a workwear company, get immersed in the world of your customers and find out the specific needs and use cases where intelligent workwear adds value. Within the Movesense network, you will find the tools and building blocks to turn the identified opportunities into commercial products.

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