Fujitsu (News - Alert) has developed prototypes of a postage stamp-sized sensor capable of detecting movement and physical conditions of the person wearing it. The sensors are part of Ubiquitousware, a new Internet of things (IoT) platform the company recently announced.
According to a company press release, Ubiquitousware is made up of modules and middleware that process sensor data transmitted via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to a cloud server from wearables like location badges or vital-sensing bands. The data is then converted into information that is meaningful in the context of the customer’s business needs and allows management to make decisions and take action more quickly.
The tags contain sensors capable of detecting several different conditions like accelerometers, GPS, barometers, heart rate sensors, microphones, and gyroscopes. It would be possible therefore, to detect if someone has fallen down, what their heart rate is, their posture, their location, and for the sensor wearer to communicate to someone at a monitoring station.
The applications of the technology seem endless. In a senior care facility, for example, staff could respond quickly if a patient fell down. This would also prove useful in construction work safety, and so would the ability to detect pulse rate and heat. In a secured work environment, location badges would make it possible to detect employees in areas they are not authorized to enter. Location technology is not limited to GPS, but also uses a ‘dead-reckoning’ proprietary mechanism that locates people inside buildings where GPS may not work.
Fujitsu has begun field testing of Ubiquitousware for three different applications. In an agricultural environment, farmers will wear vital-sensing bands that detect if a farmer has fallen due to equipment tipping over. If sensors detect a farmer falling down, but do not detect that person getting up within a specified timeframe, an alert is issued to the farmer’s family. The other testing environments include patient location tacking in a Finnish hospital and workplace safety for Fujitsu Network solutions field operators. Ubiquitousware is expected to be in production by December.
The inevitable controversy from technology like Ubiquitousware will be about privacy. Although courts seem to generally side with employers when it comes to monitoring employees on the clock, there will always be concerns about employers going too far. The best solution is an open dialog with employees about what is being monitored and when. As it relates to safety applications, the good probably outweighs the bad; with other applications it’s going to differ on a case by case basis.
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Edited by Dominick Sorrentino
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