The winning team of this year’s Intel Global Challenge, a business plan competition that asks students to take on the world’s biggest issues through the use of technology, has come up with a way to possibly avoid the silicosis plague. Developed by a team of students from Chile, the Mobile Monitoring Station is a sensor-filled jacket that keeps track of vital signs like heart rate along with levels of particulate matter, which can contribute to lung disease.
The station lets workers monitor themselves via a smartphone app, while safety managers can access all of the workers' data on a website. If a worker’s signals go above certain thresholds–perhaps by inhaling more particulate matter over a long period of time than is safe–alerts will go off. The jacket will vibrate and the system will send emails to safety managers.
Another great example of how empathy can drive innovation at any age. The idea becomes more interesting as a possible inspiration for other environmentally related respiratory risks the likes of which we’re seeing in China.