8 May 2018 FHE strategies for cost-effective, comfortable, conformable voltage sensing wristband for worker safety
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Abstract
OSHA reports that in 2016 there were 154 fatalities and 1640 non-fatal injuries from electrical exposure.1 These incidents occurred even at sites with state-of-the art electrical safety programs. Such programs emphasize shutting off sources of electrical energy before exposure, which often occurs during maintenance, installation or other service activities. Nevertheless, exposures still occur, and GE’s research team has been investigating ways of alerting employees to unidentified energized sources. One means of reducing these exposure risks is the use of wearable electronics that would alert the user to energized sources. GE’s Global Research is actively pursuing projects to enhance worker safety with wire-free, lightweight, comfortable devices, and a voltage sensing wristband was developed to provide notification to service and repair workers of the presence of live alternating current circuits. The monitors are not a substitute for personal protective equipment (PPE), but are instead designed to supplement existing training, protocols as a last line and layer of defense. While non-contact voltage sensing devices exist, they do not have the desired sensitivity, comfort, form factor, or "wear and forget" operational mode that is desired for the service workforce. The research team worked closely with the field in specification development and refinement, and in rapidly creating and evaluating prototypes. Flexible circuit, sensor, and band were developed, iterated and field tested in several quick iterative turns. Flexible Hybrid Electronic (FHE) technology elements were used to integrate sensing, communication and computational elements together to create a conformable, bendable wristband. Important lessons were learned about the operating environment, user interface, wearability requirements, sensitivity and repeatability of the devices that drove further design iterations. This band may also serve as a modular platform for further development and enhancement of both the base capabilities and the addition of more diverse sensing capabilities.
Conference Presentation
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Nancy Stoffel, Nancy Stoffel, Emad Andarawis, Emad Andarawis, Cheng-Po Chen, Cheng-Po Chen, Jeffrey Mayton, Jeffrey Mayton, Sam Murley, Sam Murley, Paul Holdredge, Paul Holdredge, Duncan Boyce, Duncan Boyce, "FHE strategies for cost-effective, comfortable, conformable voltage sensing wristband for worker safety", Proc. SPIE 10639, Micro- and Nanotechnology Sensors, Systems, and Applications X, 106391E (8 May 2018); doi: 10.1117/12.2306534; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2306534
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