Activities part of the BIONIC project were on full display at the recent MEDICA 2021, held Nov 15-18, 2021, in Dusseldorf Germany. The BIONIC (for Body Information ON an Intelligent Chip) project is funded by the European Union. The project’s goal involves “Personalized Body Sensor Networks with Built-In Intelligence for Real-Time Risk Assessment and Coaching of Ageing workers, in all types of working and living environments.” This means that smart wearables, including sensors, are an integral part of the solution(s).
Key elements of the BIONIC project. Source: the BIONIC project.
Instead of attaching sensing devices firmly to the body that negatively impact comfort and possibly impede movement during work or everyday physical activity, researchers expect that loosely integrated inertial measurements units (IMUs) will provide the answer. When fitted into everyday or work clothing with dynamic monitoring of overall body posture, the design approach will significantly promote the wide adoption of motion tracking wearables. The kinetic, physiological and environmental sensor data related to the situation of the workers, including their posture and their surroundings, will provide feedback to prevent ongoing harmful processes.
At Medica 2021, a sensor system developed by researchers at the German Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) and TU Kaiserslautern demonstrated how a system can be configured to prevent the consequences of incorrect posture.
Installed in working clothes and shoes, sensors on a worker’s arms, legs and back, detect movement sequences and software evaluates the data from the sensors. Through a smartwatch, the user receives direct feedback to correct harmful movement or posture. These harmful movements can result from assembling components in a bent posture, regularly putting away heavy crates on shelves or something as simple as quickly writing an e-mail to a colleague on the computer. These situations can easily occur at work since most people do not pay attention to an ergonomically sensible posture or a gentle sequence of movements. If left uncorrected, these harmful movements can result in back, neck, hip or knee pain occurring several times a month or week and ultimately develop into chronic pain.