Mining by United Nations Photo

Member Article

Health sensor could save miners lives

The development of a revolutionary new technology could help save lives in the mining industry.

A chance discussion between Professor Barrie Hayes-Gill of the University of Nottingham and Warwick Adams, the managing director of Derby based company Tioga prompted the development of ‘Heart Light’

‘Heart Light’ ensures that the heart rate of new-born babies is constantly monitored by attaching a small sensor to their head. Having this technology in place ensures that doctors and and midwives can be fast acting when performing resuscitation without having to stop to check the infants heart beat without a stethoscope.

During the conversation, Professor Barrie Hayes-Gill told Warwick Adams that he and his team had been involved in the ‘Heart Light’ technology. Warwick Adams whose company undertakes work in the mining industry was interested as to wether the technology could be beneficial to miners.

Tioga, which employes 90 people at its headquarters in Derby is a contract electronics manufacturer which produces products for the telecommunications, medical devices, security, gaming, transport and mining.

Recent mining accidents have shown the need to be able to access the health and location of miners trapped underground. While some mines use systems known as RFID (Radio Frequency Identification Systems) many still use tally systems and use tokens to check how many miners have returned from their shift.

There is however, no reliable system in place which monitors the health of the miners while they are working underground.

Tioga have signed a licence agreement with the University of Nottingham for the development of an optical head mounted heart rate sensor which will monitor all workers in high risk industrial environments. The sensor was designed and patented by the Applied Optics Research Group at the university.

A Knowledge Transfer Partnership has been set up between the university and Tioga to facilitate the research needed to design a product which is suitable for the the mining industry and allow a transfer of knowledge, technology and skills.

Steve Jackson has been appointed as the dedicated research for the technology. His roll will involve the development of the initial Hear Light concept into a penny-sized sensor which will fit into the helmet of a miner. The Mining Industry Mobile Sensor (MiMoS) will be able to detect a range of essential features for miners, including heart rate, temperature, activity and respiration.

Professor Barrie Hayes-Gill said: “From the work that we have done, with Tioga, it is clear that there is tremendous potential for this Mining Industry Mobile Sensor (MiMoS), in the mining industry. Not only will it be able to instantly detect serious issues with the well-being of miners, but it will also enable long term and detailed occupational health monitoring of each miner to take place.

Tioga have already conducted a series of successful trials in mining conditions and, with the final development of the product underway, are aiming to launch the product in 2014.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Francesca Dent .

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