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MIT and Eni develop Safety++ wearables

13 November 2019

Researchers at MIT have been collaborating with Italian oil company Eni on the Safety ++ project which explores innovative solutions to improve worker safety in extreme environments. The MIT Design Lab has designed an entire ecosystem of connected objects.

Image: MIT
Image: MIT

The most important part of the system is the connected vest – an easy and non-intrusive way of collecting biological data from the wearer. The Undershirt++ features a series of small vibration motors that permit tactile communication with the user through vibrations which operators recognise and associate with specific issues after appropriate training. The vest can also monitor the health of the user using biosensors that measure heart rate, breathing, galvanic skin response and spatial position through a gyro.

The vest provides 16 points of haptic feedback and can collect information through a number of integrated sensors. The collected information is sent to a central processor located in the back of the vest which also acts as a bridge to a jacket and the environment. The jacket has multiple sensors integrated into either arm to measure air quality, noise levels, smoke, and any airborne chemical that could cause bodily harm. When the sensors detect such gases, a warning message is sent via the vest to all operators in the affected area. This warning is also forwarded to the control room, thus increasing the precision of monitoring of gas leaks. The vest and jacket work together to increase bidirectional communication so that everyone remains well informed. 

Another part of the system is the Carabiner++ which has a pressure sensor that detects when the carabiner has been engaged and a wireless module which streams data communicates with the rest of the network. An altitude sensor in the jacket combines with the carabiner which senses if the user is strapped in or not when working at height. If the user is not strapped in, a warning is sent to the user via haptic feedback in the vest. 

Shoes++ have been designed that use pressure sensors to measure the weight of a load being lifted by the user. If a load is too heavy, the sensors communicate with the vest which then sends haptic feedback to the user and nearby workers that the load being lifted is too heavy and help is required.

The entire Safety++ system communicates through a system of interconnected nodes that allow each element of the ecosystem to communicate with each other. The system is a reliable communication network that dynamically adapts to the areas in which it is used and establishes a solid platform to support the integration of various elements.

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