Sensors will be part of work clothes in the future
Real-time data and the possibilities offered by the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is attracting attention to a man-machine interface that has already been on the consumer market: wearables.4 Dec 2019
Augmented reality is the first catchword that comes to mind regarding wearables in industry: data goggles that, for example, show service technicians all the necessary information directly in their field of vision on the machine. The Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology IPT, which is represented on the market with its own spin-off Oculavis , already presented figures for industrial use back in 2016: only 3.4% of the companies surveyed in Germany used smart glasses, while 15.1% were planning to do so.
These figures are likely to have increased significantly since then, especially if you consider further wearables. Portable technology could do a lot more according to a study by Frost & Sullivan TechVision . According to “ Wearable Technologies for Industrial Applications ”, IIoT technologies in caps or worn around the wrist and equipped with sensors, speech recognition, vision aids, or touch-sensitive technology could increase user safety and provide easy access to virtually unlimited data.
Developers are currently working on solutions that are lighter, more comfortable, and easier to handle. They should improve ergonomics, reduce problems caused by fatigue, and ensure work safety thanks to longer battery life and advanced sensor technologies. For example, there are mechatronic exoskeletons by the Swiss company nonee to assist with work done in a standing position. In Scharnhausen, Festo uses ProGlove gloves with an integrated hand-held scanner . For other tasks that require both hands, smartwatches (such as from Trekstor or Asys ) provide information about orders and goods receipts; as an alternative, there is also a pick-by-voice solution by topsystem for hanging around the neck .
Especially when it comes to assistance systems, the boundary between wearables and Cobots is ultimately blurry. Wearables are generally also helpful in documentation, for training new employees, for remote maintenance and, of course, to display real-time information about the production system. The Frost & Sullivan study therefore expects highly disruptive developments in the wearables market over the next two to five years.
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