The latest developments in wearable technology for the connected worker space include the launch of Rufus Labs’ Cuff Pro and ScanGLove2, the designing of a new wearable exoskeleton by LSU, Kinetic’s patent opening to the public, and the use of wearable exoskeletons in the automotive industry.
Rufus Labs’ Wearable Gloves
- On November 4, 2020, Rufus Labs, a company that provides wearable warehouse technology and workforce analytics software, announced the release of the Rufus Cuff Pro and ScanGlove2.
- The Rufus Cuff Pro is a wearable computer with Rufus WorkHero software used for the supply chain. The product features the Android 9 operating system, a large screen, swappable batteries, and dual-band WiFi.
- The ScanGlove2 is an inventory management glove-barcode reader that connects to the Rufus Cuff via Bluetooth to keep workers hands-free. The product improves scan efficiency “by over 50%.”
LSU Designing Wearable Exoskeleton
- On November 12, 2020, LSU (Louisiana State University) and Rutgers University “received a $150,000 planning grant from the National Science Foundation as part of NSF’s 10 Big Ideas—Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier (FW-HTF) program to develop an exoskeleton.”
- Through this project, LSU and Rutgers will develop lightweight, personalized wearable exoskeletons for construction workers to provide them safety and longevity.
- Experts in charge of the project are Bert S. Turner, Chao Wang, and Fereydoun Aghazadeh.
- This exoskeleton is a new concept in construction as the industry is “more dynamic and complicated” and, according to Wang, “there are a few exoskeleton products currently available on the market, but they mainly target the industrial/manufacturing setting.”
Kinetic Opening Patent for the Public Domain
- KINETIC, a company that provides wearable technology for the industrial workforce, was issued a patent “for using a wearable device to perform contact tracing and proximity alerts.” The company was given the patent for its system which monitors “safety and productivity of physical tasks .”
- On October 22, 2020, the company opened this patent “for free public domain use during the Covid-19 pandemic through the Open Covid Pledge.”
- The patent addresses proximity alerts and contact tracing challenges faced in the current pandemic.
Current Trend: Wearable Exoskeletons in the Automotive Industry
- Wearable exoskeletons are being studied by companies in the automotive industry. Examples of companies include Hyundai Motor Co., Ford Motor Co., and General Motors Co.
- Many companies are focusing on corporate social responsibility and labor protection. To avoid workplace-related injuries, automotive companies are using wearable exoskeletons.
- Exoskeletons are useful in general assembly lines and in all “repetitive processes that can’t be automated.”