Body tracking technology is used by elite athletes to better understand their biomechanics so they can improve their performance. But the same tech is being used by Ford at its Valencia Engine Assembly Plant in Spain. Staff there are being fitted with body tracking technology to design less physically taxing workstations, promote good posture and enhance manufacturing quality.
The plant workers wear special suit with sensors that helps promote good posture.
"It’s been proven on the sports field that with motion tracking technology, tiny adjustments to the way you move can have a huge benefit,” said Javier Gisbert, production area manager, Ford Valencia Engine Assembly Plant. “For our employees, changes made to work areas using similar technology can ultimately ensure that, even on a long day, they are able to work comfortably".
Ford's engineers took inspiration from a suit they saw at a trade fair. The suit consists of 15 tiny movement tracking light sensors connected to a wireless detection unit. The system tracks how the person moves at work, highlighting head, neck, shoulder and limb movements. Movement is recorded with motion-tracking cameras that are similar to the Xbox Kinect.
Specially trained ergonomists use the data to help employees align their posture and design workstations that better fit employees.
Aside from the benefits to workers, there are broader benefits to the company. As well as potentially helping employees be more efficient and effective, better designed workstations should reduce injuries caused by fatigue and poor ergonomics. And a more comfortable workplace could also assist with employee retention.