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Smart Clothes Advice Busy Employees To Take A Break

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Medanta’s owners, CEO Anu Kivelä and Director of Design and Production Taina Steiner (right), together with Kimmo Pernu, Innovation Architect at Suunto, are working to make smart work and patient clothes part of people’s daily lives.

Smart clothes will soon be part of day-to-day life in the workplace. Medanta manufactures antimicrobial work clothes, and Suunto has developed the Movesense sensor technology. Together, these companies are developing smart clothes that increase safety, well-being and job satisfaction. The use of smart textiles makes work run more smoothly for busy chefs and healthcare professionals alike, as well as improving patient safety.

Steaming pans, hot ovens and tight schedules. Work in restaurant kitchens is often hectic, and the temperatures can be high. A busy chef does not necessarily have the time to notice that it would be a good idea to take a break.

“In many professions, high temperatures are a challenge in terms of both occupational safety and job satisfaction. In such circumstances, it would be good to be able to monitor the temperature in real time during the working day. By measuring various factors related to employees and the conditions, a restaurant company, for example, can support its employees’ health and coping at work,” says Kimmo Pernu, Innovation Architect at Suunto.

The Movesense sensors developed by Suunto can be used to monitor the workload by measuring body temperature, movement and heart rate, as well as the temperature of the environment. As yet, smart clothes have not been used in restaurant kitchens, but smart chef’s jackets equipped with sensors may soon be a natural part of day-to-day work.

Suunto and Medanta, a company manufacturing antimicrobial work clothes, have developed a smart jacket that is being tested in the kitchens of two Helsinki-based restaurants in the spring of 2020.

Smart clothes meet customers’ daily challenges

According to Anu Kivelä, CEO of Medanta, the company’s cooperation with Suunto arose from the needs of Medanta’s customers.

“We set out to develop wearable technology, because we want to serve our customers as well as possible. To achieve this, we need to continuously deepen our understanding of their business operations. Our customers’ wishes and daily challenges were the main reasons why we contacted Suunto in the spring of 2019.”

According to Kimmo Pernu, the cooperation with Medanta has also been an interesting step for Suunto: work clothes hold great potential for the multifaceted use of the Movesense technology.

Suunto’s Movesense is a leading technology in its field. Photo: Suunto

According to Pernu, the small and light motion and biometric sensors are easy to attach to work clothes in such a way that they are unnoticeable and don’t interfere with work.

“Chefs won’t need to change their routines. They will put on their normal work clothes – which happen to be equipped with our measurement technology. The contact thermal sensor is sewn on the jacket, and a detachable radio device for data transmission and all calculations is attached to the sensor with a press stud.”

The best place for the sensor turned out to be the shoulder area, where the weight of the fabric ensures good contact with the skin.

“It was not possible to place the sensor on the front side, which is an active area where people work with their hands and where the sensor could get stuck on something or fall into a pot. The data transmitted by Movesense is directed to the cloud, and the technology enables the use of artificial intelligence, for example,” Pernu explains.

Smart features increase well-being and improve productivity

The sensors on chef’s jackets manufactured by Medanta send measurement data to a base station in the kitchen via Bluetooth. From the base station, the data is transmitted to an analysis service in the cloud.

A restaurant can analyse and use the results as it wishes, provided that the rules have been agreed upon with the employees, of course.

Anu Kivelä and Kimmo Pernu are looking forward to the results of the pilot project. The occupational health and safety legislation determines the conditions and norms for rest breaks.

“The app could assess the need for an additional rest break, for example, and advise the employee to take one. Data based on measurements improves safety at work and supports health, as well as improving productivity through fewer sickness absences. The most obvious benefit of smart clothes is that a company will be able to take better care of its highly motivated employees – that is, its most valuable capital,” says Pernu.

The technology withstands industrial washing

Kimmo Pernu has long experience in sensor technology: he has been involved in developing measurement technologies for clothes at Suunto and Amer Sports for 15 years. Suunto is part of Amer Sports, a Finnish group of companies that owns several globally known sports brands, such as Salomon, Atomic and Wilson.

Suunto’s factory in Vantaa develops and manufactures smart technology for the needs of athletes and fitness enthusiasts, as well as for various industries.

Initially, Suunto developed sensor technology for its own needs: Movesense made it possible to create special applications and services for various sports.

“Other companies became increasingly interested in our technology, so we decided to create a new business model, an internal start-up. The goal was to build a sensor around which it would be easy for our customers to create their own applications,” Pernu explains.

According to Kivelä, the partnership with Suunto has run smoothly. The division of work is clear: Suunto is responsible for the measurement technology, and Medanta is responsible for integrating the sensors into the clothes.

“A major challenge for us is how well the sensors withstand the industrial washing process. This is one of the aspects that are being tested during the pilot project. Good work clothes are not only durable, but also as simple as possible, in addition to being carefree to wear. We want to ensure that the sensors don’t need to be removed before washing the clothes,” Kivelä points out.

Matteo Vallarsa (left), an Italian textile engineer and pioneer of the textile industry, helps Medanta find the most sustainable innovations and production methods in the field. “As a manufacturer of lightweight work clothes, Medanta is a global leader in terms of its expertise in antimicrobial qualities and ambitious product development. Smart clothes are an excellent example of this.” Matteo Vallarsa visited Suunto’s factory, accompanied by Taina Steiner, Anu Kivelä and Kimmo Pernu.

Smart clothes improve patient safety

The cooperation between Medanta and Suunto has started with chef’s jackets, but the need for smart clothes in healthcare is at least equally significant. In the future, it will be increasingly difficult to hire employees in the healthcare sector, because the proportion of elderly people is increasing and the birth rate is decreasing.

“All solutions that reduce routine work will bring cost savings,” says Kivelä.

Sensors attached to patients’ clothes make it possible to monitor the progress of their treatment in real time.

“Currently, a nurse takes the patient’s temperature or reads their ECG many times a day. The Movesense technology measures these continuously, freeing up healthcare professionals’ time for non-routine tasks. The data can also help healthcare professionals plan treatment better.”

Kimmo Pernu also sees great potential in health technology.

“We participated in the international Medica trade fair in Germany last November. Medica is the world’s largest trade fair for medicine and healthcare, and through our discussions with experts at the event, we realised that very little open interface motion and biometric measurement technology is available, meaning that we are firmly placed among the pioneers.”