Smart, connected fabric: how AI, IoT and Mitsufuji create safer working environments
By Brian Massey | 3 minute read | November 19, 2018
How can you keep your company relevant and vital in today’s connected world? Can you leverage technology and analytics to advance overall safety for employees? When do you use IoT technology to gain insights into employee’s activities in near real time? How do you provide notifications and preventative measures for their safety?
These are questions businesses are asking, especially in more established, traditional industries. Mitsufuji, a Japanese textile manufacturer founded in 1956, is answering these questions with the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
How they got here is an interesting story. In the 1990s, Mitsufuji created AGposs, a silver-metalized fiber. Originally created for its antibacterial properties, Mitsufuji discovered that it was also highly conductive. And that insight led Mitsufuji down a more connected path. Now, they describe their company as a wearable IoT company, delivering connected garments that help companies safeguard workers’ wellbeing. I had the pleasure of working with them recently as part of a new partnership with IBM.
About a safer work environment
Companies are utilizing connected devices more and more to improve the working environment, and provide a higher degree of safety. It’s a simple approach: workers who perform their tasks in challenging environments wear IoT devices to monitor and alert them in high-risk situations.
Mitsufuji is advancing that model with the Mitsufuji hamon® device. And in the process, they’re creating a business that’s very relevant. The hamon® device is an entirely new wearable product utilizing the AGposs silver fiber to collect biometric, ECG, Gyro, PPS and accelerometer data to help manage physical and environment conditions. They’re adopting IBM Maximo Worker Insights and the IBM IoT Platform to use with their hamon® device. Data will be aggregated with additional data coming through other sensors and environmental data, all of which will provide additional and vital context needed by companies. The result is a new, total solution: from materials and device developments to applications, insights and the cloud.
Beneath the clothes: how this total solution works
This new, more comprehensive approach can be broken down into three main parts:
- Garments, made with AGposs their highly connective silver-metalized fiber
- Biometric data management service, known as hamon®
- Analytics, insights and real-time monitoring with IBM Maximo Worker Insights and the IBM Watson IoT Platform
First, hamon® collects the wearer’s biometric data from a wearable IoT device made from silver-metalized conductive fibers. Then IBM Maximo Worker Insights gather and analyze both biometric and environmental data, like humidity, temperature, noise and toxic gas levels, to monitor the wellbeing of the wearer.
Safety in the workplace is an obvious use case for this solution. For example, a construction site involves work with heavy machinery, long hours, prolonged exposure to loud noise levels and ever-changing weather. However, by measuring biometric data and combining it with external factors and analytics, managers and workers have safer options. This includes isolating trouble spots, encouraging safer behavior, receiving instant notifications and reacting immediately when problems happen.
A solution for many types of work
The solution also extends well beyond the construction scenario. For example, a professional sports team may use it to hone their athletes’ training plans, pick up on potential injuries and ensure peak health and fitness. Or nursing and medical professionals might use it to ensure the wellbeing of their patients. Caregivers might use it to monitor a newborn’s sleep.
The possibilities are truly endless. Because Mitsufuji understands that a heartbeat isn’t just data. With this new IBM partnership, they’re weaving health data into greater human understanding.
Learn more about IBM Maximo Worker Insights
IBM Maximo Worker Insights puts compliance at the center of safety. A SaaS solution, it can securely handle vast quantities of data, and enable close to real-time insights. In stressful or even dangerous environments this means managers and workers can more proactively access risk factors and respond to them quickly. Furthermore, they can use the data to spot trends, pinpoint emerging problems and take evasive action to avoid issues before they even begin. Learn more. You can also learn more about the IBM Watson IoT Platform.