Can smart clothes reduce work-related injuries? Scania has started a research project to assess whether innovative workwear can have positive health effects.
The research project is carried out with the support of Sweden’s innovation agency together with several academic institutions and workwear manufacturers. The common aim is to prevent work-related injuries by developing clothes that measure, analyse and visualise heart rate, muscle activity, body position, movement and added strain.
Repetitive and monotonous movement is the common cause of many strain injuries, resulting in absence from work and high costs for society. Scania is convinced that there can be substantial benefits to be gained since its operators are a vulnerable group. “We believe that the project can have actual positive health effects for individuals, who, in turn, can do a better job with improved quality,” says Professor Lars Hanson, Manager for Smart Factory Lab at Scania.
Two product prototypes are now being tested at Smart Factory Lab in Södertälje, Sweden. One is a glove that monitors the thumb force and wrist angle and the other is a T-shirt with sensors that register the arm and spine angle. With this data, the system can detect improper work methods and rapidly introduce corrective measures. The operator is made aware of the fact that the wrist is being wrongly angled or that excessive force is being exerted and gradually learns how to use his or her hand without risking injury.