Yes. I AM running late on this blog post and yes I read the terms and conditions. The delay was due to unforeseen blunders on my part but here we go...
Here is my application for the challenge and where I put my foot in my mouth!. A few points to note:
1. Yes you can make fun of my drawing.
2. No I did not use crayons.
3. Yes I have crayons of my own- my wife bought three sets for my son, me and herself.
4. Yes this is a serious project.
5. And yes I will be using paper drawing from now on. I think it add character to the content.
For all logs on the project, search for the tag "safety_jacket" and it should give you a list of all the posts.
A few years ago when I was responsible for the RnD Department of a Toll Automation Company in India, I was unfortunate enough to witness an accident on one of our sites. A Toll Plaza in Chennai India was the location where a high speed car hit one of our local site engineers and he died as a result shortly thereafter.
The presence of safety jackets and helmets may not be enough in some cases where either the machines or infrastructure needs regular maintenance and cannot be shutdown all at once. This incident haunts me till date and I have not been able to answer the question, “Could things be done differently to improve personnel safety?”
Reason For Application
I have two reasons for applying for this challenge
- The theme for the “Safe & Sound” design challenge is a practical one and asks a question lingering in my mind for some years. I have not had the time or resources to investigate a solution for Road worker and the like and this seems like the perfect opportunity to put Texas Instruments technology in a solution that may save lives.
- Secondly, I am a Texas Instruments Fanboy and my experience with the offerings have been fruitful in the past. I would like to expand my hands-on experience to the MSP432 micro controller as well as the BLE and NFC offerings.
Unfortunately there are no existing solutions that can do what is needed. A walky-talky is usually used to communicate instructions and feedback and is a manual method of transmitting data. In a fast world, the act of picking up a walky and relaying instructions is too slow a process to be useful in high risk environments.
The application is based around the design and development of a complete safety and management solution for industrial workers in the tolling industry and can be extended to be used in other industrial environments as well. It consists of two major components as explained in detail below.
Part 1: The Jacket
- The MSP430 Core - This apparel contains the MSP430FR5969LP as the heart and central processor which talks to the peripherals. This core is responsible for managing the sensors as well as the communications with the remote unit. The controller is expected to run TI RTOS and is expected to sleep and save energy
- A CC1310 is used as a long range communications radio between the apparel as well as a remote station. The data packets will be short and intermittent and the radio will power off to save energy.
- A TI Fuel Booster Pack or a custom battery management solution will be used to power the wearable and monitor battery life. Monitoring the battery is important for wearables.
- The BQ25570EVM will be used to charge the battery as well as a 10Farad super cap from a solar panel. This will allow for longer in-field spans since the super capacitor can charge more quickly from harvested energy.
- The CC2650 will be used to provide BTLE connectivity between the apparel and a custom Android App. This will allow for a user interface for configuration and event monitoring.
- The Sensors Booster pack will be mounted upfront to monitor environment conditions. These are to be mounted on the front and are in the form of a replaceable format. These can be upgraded later for other applications as well.
- A buzzer located at the shoulder will be used to generate audio alerts. The near-the-ear location allows for feedback in addition to the hepatic feedback from the cellphone alerts.
Part 2: The base station
The other supporting and equally important part of this application is the base station. It consists of the following parts.
- The CC1310 radio for communication with the Apparel. Being a long range radio, this ensures communication given small obstructions and inside nearby buildings.
- An MSP430F5969 Launchpad which acts like a controller for the other booster packs. This MSP430 has enough RAM to store the local data as well as drive the display.
- Sharp96 LCD Booster pack which is used to provide a small Display of status. Small and compact, it allows for a friendly and summaries readout.
- SENSE1 booster pack which is used for input. Instead of tactile buttons that may get damaged with time, the capacitive sensors will work longer.
- A Buzzer for audio and alarm light for visual alerts.
- A Raspberry Pi for data storage and event triggers and interfacing with other equipment. I plan to run a small database as well as a NodeJS Service that manages the communications and storage.
The idea is to have a field engineer wear this safety jacket out into the field. The sensors will monitor the environment and send feedback to the remote base station. The wearer can also monitor conditions on his smartphone if necessary. In case a local parameter is violated e.g. a sudden rise in temperature is detected or a fall is detected, the values will register and an audio alert will sound. This data is also sent over the sub-GHz radio to the base station where the support staff gets notified of these variations. The data is displayed on the remote station which is a stand alone device that has a user interface using the sharp LCD and Capacitive sense booster packs enclosed in a 3D Printed enclosure.
Additionally, the base station is also connected with a raspberry pi which allows interfacing with other equipment. For example when working on the road, an alert is sent to the jacket every time a vehicle is allowed to enter into the lane. This allows for the engineer to move to a safe zone and can also be used to call the engineer off the track. This data can be sent over the internet to a server for monitoring and can also be used by other systems developers to integrate into their own system. e.g. a toll barrier sensor can be integrated with this system to automatically send alerts about oncoming traffic.
The last part is the Android application which will be used to talk to the smartphone and provide a simple GUI.
Risks and Challenges
I have carefully taken into consideration the time lines and feel the risks in this applications are limited to the availability of the components. In this application, I have proposed a prototype with the provided kit however once I have the basics worked out, I will be attempting to put together a reduced BOM solution which will a PCB with most modules integrated. The testing of these takes time and I shall present a more polished prototype if time permits. Initially, I am aiming at a working prototype to demonstrate the concept which may or may not be production ready.