How to think like an accelerometer
Paper short abstract:
With proactive and personalized approaches to occupational health & safety on the horizon, a new class of wearable sensors are enabling worker's movements over the course of a shift, or even a career to become visible. But what does the sensor see? What do we see in the visualized and animated data?
Paper long abstract:
There are increasing efforts to equip workers with wearable sensors. Much attention has centered on efforts to find the 'killer workplace app' for conventional wearables like smart glasses, heads-up displays, and location trackers. But beyond the beauty-pageant case studies of the most successful, high potential return on investment, brand-name devices with which we may be more familiar, smaller start-ups are focusing on developing bespoke and specialized motion sensors, ushering an era of 'proactive' and 'personalized' approaches to occupational health & safety. These sensors observe and record a worker's movements over an entire shift, week, or career, to log wear and tear and warn of potential injuries that most often go unnoticed and unreported. Where workers, employers, ergonomists, and insurance providers were once blind, they can now see.
But what does the sensor see? How do these newly christened 'modest witnesses' measure motion as it occurs in real-time and translate that into a future likelihood of injury? This paper explores these themes through an empirical case study of a Canadian start-up developing a motion-sensing system for monitoring the risk of occupational musculoskeletal injury.
Seeing with data and devices