Belt-worn device lets workers know when they're risking injury
It's no secret that jobs which involve a lot of bending, twisting or reaching can cause debilitating injuries. Sometimes, though, it's hard to remember to do those things the right way. The wearable Kinetic Reflex is designed to help workers in that regard, by alerting them to unsafe postures.
Equipped with an inertial measurement unit (an accelerometer/gyroscope combo), the Reflex is worn on the user's belt or waistband. As they go about their daily duties in a factory, warehouse or other setting, it detects when they're performing high-risk actions such as lifting objects by bending at the back instead of at the knees.
When this happens, it provides the user with a real-time alert by gently vibrating, and displaying a warning on its screen.
Additionally, at the end of each shift, the Wi-Fi-equipped device transmits its data to a central computer-based dashboard, where supervisors can review each of their workers' safety habits. That dashboard additionally shows how all of the workplace's detected unsafe postures are distributed amongst different tasks, so action can be taken in areas where the risk is the greatest.
The device itself is water- and impact-resistant, and can run for a claimed 15 hours per charge of its battery. Along with simply detecting and recording unsafe postures, it can also be used to set goals, in which it helps workers try to stay below a given number of warnings each day – this feature allows workers to compete against one another, with an incentive being provided to whoever is shown to be the safest.
The Reflex was initially released last year, and has reportedly been shown to reduce unsafe postures by up to 84 percent, along with reducing musculoskeletal injuries by 40 percent within 12 months of use, and reducing reports of worker back pain by 56 percent. This month, Kinetic received US$4.5 million of seed funding, which should result in increased production and availability of the device.
Workplaces utilizing the technology pay an annual fee of $200 to $400, depending on the number of devices being used.