With the aim of offering solutions for improving workplace safety and health, Hitachi has worked in partnership with DFKI (German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence), its spinoff company Sci-Track, and the smart apparel company Xenoma, Inc. to develop a wearable AI that can be used for continuous monitoring of physical activities and workloads.
As measuring physical workloads requires sensors to be attached to a worker, psychological resistance and the trouble involved in attaching sensors present difficulties. By inferring information about the wearer’s posture from sensors incorporated into their normally worn work jackets, on the other hand, the AI system can perform workload measurements that do not cause stress to the wearer.
One problem is that, as the sensor is not directly attached to the worker’s body, the flexing of the fabric during use becomes a form of noise. However, our AI system compensates for this error by learning how the sensor position changes in -response to postural actions. The concept for this was developed by DFKI within the European project BIONIC (Body Information ON an Intelligent Chip).
At Hannover Messe 2022, we demonstrate the pose estimation, activity recognition and workload estimation using the actual jacket with multiple IMU sensors embedded.
In the future, DFKI and Hitachi plan to verify its suitability for use in factories, maintenance, and logistics workplaces, recognizing that, by taking advantage of its ability to be worn by workers without stress, the technology can help to improve worker safety and motivation in a wide range of fields through continuous ongoing activity monitoring.