There’s a lot of hype at the moment about how technology will make us more productive. Think Industry 4.0 and the zero marginal cost economy. But while technology is making us more productive, it’s also making us safer.
The subject of safety is usually met with yawning indifference. And while local authorities and government regulations make the whole matter appear bureaucratic and dull, safety is something that we all want. The last thing that we want in the 21st century is the ability to live to 100 but a civilization that makes the risks of death from injury much higher.
So what is technology doing to make the workplace safer? Let’s take a look.
Millions of people drive for a living, whether as truck drivers hauling goods across the country, service engineers in vans, or cabbies. But the road is a dangerous place – thousands of people die on it every year. Companies, therefore, need technologies that help their workers safe while out on the road.
Enter telematics. What is telematics? Essentially, telematics is a catchall term that refers to collecting data remotely about a vehicle on the road. Telematics involves gathering information from engine sensors, such as brake use, oil pressure, speed, and engine temperature, as well as GPS location, video information, and information relating to vehicle usage.
The purpose of collecting all this information is to help make work safer, either by training drivers to use their vehicles more safely, helping them avoid accident blackspots, and warning them if there is a problem with their vehicle.
About six years ago, computers at Google learned how to tell the difference between a cat and a dog. Since then, facial recognition technologies have come on leaps and bounds, and we’re not in a world where smart software can fabricate new faces of people who do not exist out of the ether.
All this new technology is now filtering down into the workplace. We’re seeing more and more companies using facial recognition technology to give particular people access to various parts of the office, and keep everyone else out.
The robots of old were large, clunky and largely uncaring devices. They had no qualms in crushing a worker if they got in the way of their pre-programmed operations. But thanks to smart software and better servos, we’re seeing a range of new robots, dubbed “cobots” coming to market.
These robots are different. When they encounter resistance, they will suspend their operation until the cause of the resistance is removed. So if you’re a human working next to one of these robots, then it will stop doing whatever it is doing if it bumps into you — no need to visit the emergency room.
Braking assist technology jumps into action when it thinks the driver hasn’t seen an obstruction up ahead. Braking assist is particularly helpful for people who rely on driving for a living. It can step in and save the day during a momentary loss of communication.