Safety in real-time.

The Smart Helmet Clip is an industrial-grade wearable device that facilitates safer productivity in heavy industries. It has a modular sensor suite that enables situational awareness (including location, presence of dangerous gasses, and a worker’s vital signs) for both the workers and the industrial operators. The Smart Helmet Clip’s location awareness also allows operators to make quicker decisions in response to real-time activities on the ground.

Our deep expertise in vital signs monitoring wearables led Deloitte to us.

The Challenge.

A pitch competition at DSpace, Deloitte’s rapid prototyping hub for development of emerging technologies, revealed an intriguing concept: mining companies could deploy wearables for their mining personnel to improve operations and lower costs.

This proof of concept had the potential to highlight how innovation can make a mine safer and more productive. Understanding a miner’s location, as well as their activity and personal environmental factors, improves safety, speeds up operations, and lowers costs by allowing operators to dynamically control ventilation and allocate resources.

The challenge was to create a wearable vital signs monitor that would work with existing personal protective equipment (PPE). It needed to measure miners’ heart rate, oxygen, fatigue, location, and adverse environmental conditions — without asking the miners to change their workflow.

Deloitte has a deep understanding of design thinking, but wearables hardware development was new territory for them. They had a proof of concept, but they needed the right partner to turn it into a workable, marketable product. Our deep expertise in vital signs monitoring wearables led them to us.

The Insight.

We went underground to do an ethnographic study of mining personnel in action. Real mines, real miners. This led us to a few key product insights:

  • The original concept, a wrist-worn wearable with a touch-based interface, isn’t feasible in real-world underground conditions.
  • Workers will resist a wearable that attaches sensors right to their body. Location and activity tracking gives the same actionable data (where are they? Are they safe?) as vital signs monitoring, while making the device much easier to adopt.
  • The mining industry is resistant to change, with ingrained safety protocols. A device that attaches to existing helmets augments miners’ capability without changing their PPE.
  • A modular sensor allows mine operators to hotswap sensors for mines with different environmental conditions (temperature, humidity, oxygen level, presence of methane, carbon monoxide, etc.).

Cortex Fundamental Deliverables.

  • Deep (pun intended) ethnographic research uncovered user needs and behaviours that were previously unknown. This allowed us to deliver a prototype that miners would actually use.
  • Mapped out a path towards commercialization with a production plan and timeline.
  • Partnered with Deloitte and Vandrico for speaking engagements to promote the offering.

The Result.

  • We gave Deloitte a new suite of hardware and industrial design capabilities to offer to their enterprise clients. This includes customized hardware solutions for specific use cases.
  • Deloitte is working with a mining equipment manufacturer to commercialize the Smart Helmet Clip. They’re now working on pilot studies with mining enterprise companies.

© 2021 Cortex Design Inc.

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