Scandinavian research organization SINTEF is developing sensors and materials that provide a significant increase in performance for workers in cold and harsh climates. Its ‘ColdWear‘ project aims to integrate sensors in clothing that improve user safety without reducing comfort and work performance. Øystein Wiggen, a physiologist and research scientist at SINTEF, said:
The average worker may be so determined to get the job done that his fingers become cold and lose their dexterity, with the result that screws are not fitted correctly, leading to increased risk level some time in the future. We may well have to use a sort of traffic-light system in such situations, in which green means ‘OK’, yellow means ‘take care’ and red indicates that ‘there is danger afoot.’
SINTEF has so far created a demonstration sleeve for a smart jacket that has sensors to measure hand temperature, humidity, and outside temperature. Gizmag reports that the work jacket the organization is developing will have built-in sensors to monitor temperature and activity, which will be sent via Bluetooth to a computer or smartphone where the data can be analyzed.
This information could help supervisors know when to give workers a rest or when to bring them in from the cold. The jacket also features an accelerometer, gyroscope and digital compass to monitor activity. The sensors, which don’t need to make direct contact with the skin, use flexible conductive threads sewn into the jacket that can be bent and stretched.