Digital personal protective equipment: uvex techware

Integrating digital functions into personal protective equipment (PPE) opens up unprecedented opportunities to protect people. With uvex techware, vulnerable areas from head to toe can be equipped with sensors and actuators. By interconnecting PPE, it is possible to achieve meta functions that react as well as interact and communicate with the wearer depending on the situation at hand.

The mega trend of digital transformation now offers completely new product concepts in the field of personal protective equipment, too; these concepts can be used to successfully face the extensive level of change in the industrial sector. "New digital technologies enable existing safety functions to be enhanced in ways not possible until now as well as unique approaches to ensuring people's protection and physical comfort", explains Stefan Brück, CEO of the uvex safety group. "The uvex safety group therefore established the "Digital Business Innovation" division for the development of digital product system uvex techware. Together with highly skilled technology partners and key clients, the first product prototypes and applications have been developed, offering approaches for tailored solutions on the basis of realistic case examples.

"Products in the uvex techware system range represent the first step forward by hardware and software solutions with concrete prototypes". "We strongly believe that using this strategy will enable us to meet the new requirements of the future working environment", says Stefan Brück. "Our vision entails fully interconnecting these product concepts and integrating them into a PPE safety management system. The plan is to develop these solutions in close collaboration with our customers to ensure that they can be integrated into their system landscape".

The product concepts presented at the A+A 2017 trade fair:

Smart helmet – uvex pheos techware
In many occupational safety situations, the head must be protected in particular. The passive safety functions of the Smart Helmet are significantly enhanced through the use of meta sensors used to evaluate situations. Using this technology, it is possible to ensure that PPE is worn and integrated acceleration sensors can detect collisions, free falling and unexpected immobility. Other sensors such as those for temperature, moisture and ambient brightness enable additional functions that can be adapted to customers' requirements as well as the specific requirements of the respective area of application.

Smart Glasses – uvex i-works techware
The safety spectacles are an ideal platform for visualising information. While developing this product, particular focus was placed on integration into tried-and-tested eye protection concepts. The technologies used allow the spectacles to be worn under real working conditions such as in high ambient brightness and difficult environmental conditions. As with a head-up display in a car, information is projected onto the inside of the safety spectacles and therefore does not depend on external conditions. The display gives users access to sensor data and the measurement values of external sensors at all times. The concepts employed are optimised for low energy consumption and a lightweight design.

Smart Gesture Control – uvex suXXeed techware
Depending on the work environment, interaction between a human and a machine is a huge challenge in the context of digital occupational safety. To operate mobile end devices with small buttons and screens, hand protection often has to be removed. The Smart Gesture Control module can be integrated at different points on PPE and does not require user contact as a result of the 3D gesture detection technology used. The module allows users to control the functions of Smart Glasses, for example, or machines and their respective functions. Nine LEDs are used for safety and interaction feedback purposes.

E-Glove – uvex phynomic techware
A person's hands are their most valuable tool and must be protected against mechanical effects, cuts and hazardous chemicals. Nevertheless, tactility and tool handling must not be impaired. Integrating NFC chips into gloves enables users to access any information at any time via their mobile end device, such as that relating to the intended use and durability of the product. The safety gloves can be customised, access to machines or the infrastructure can be regulated and there are completely new opportunities available with regard to the supply chain management of PPE.

Smart Insole – uvex 1 techware
Safety shoes represent the intersection between a person and his/her direct environment when carrying out activities that do not involve sitting down. With this in mind, it is possible to determine many biomechanical scenarios and other situations. Many occupational accidents are due to slipping and a temporary loss of control. These situations can be detected and evaluated, and using targeted warnings, further accidents at known hazardous areas can be avoided. In addition, the use of meta sensors enables safety-related properties of shoes to be determined in addition to movement information in order to actively identify potential damage and the loss of safety features.

Active Lighting Vest – uvex
In hazardous situations, it is important that emergency personnel or people involved in the accident wear high-visibility vests that use warning colours and retroreflectors so that these persons can be seen in the respective lighting situation. In areas with poor lighting, however, passive high-visibility vests are difficult to see. To increase safety in such situations, the Active Lighting Vest was enhanced to include an active pulsed light source that is easy to see even in very dark environments, thereby ensuring increased safety. Integrating the vest into an interconnected safety concept enables the use of additional functions that extend far beyond those of a high-visibility vest.

Dr. Markus Burghart introducing uvex techware at the A+A 2017

The uvex group

The uvex group brings together three globally active companies under one roof: the uvex safety group, the uvex sports group (with uvex sports and Alpina Sports), and the Filtral group (Filtral and Primetta). The uvex group is represented in 22 countries by 48 subsidiaries but chooses to do most of its manufacturing in Germany. Two thirds of the company’s 2,600-strong workforce (as at fiscal year 2016/2017) is employed in Germany. uvex is a global partner to international elite sport and equips a host of top athletes. The motto protecting people is at the heart of the company’s activities. uvex develops, manufactures and distributes products and services for the safety and protection of people at work, in sport and for leisure pursuits.