The angel wears T-shirts
In the event of a severe electric shock, reaction speed is vital. So, the Austrian company Adresys has come up with a solution that is both high-tech and discreet to detect accidents and raise the alarm : a smart T-shirt.
Electricity has two faces. It is this beneficial energy running through our body and the modern world. However, it is also the dangerous invisible monster that we warn our children about.
It is a fact that the power used by our equipment and installations has nothing to do with the power animating our nervous and muscular system. It only takes a fraction of a second for beneficial energy to transform into a dangerous monster with a violent bite : shock, tetanisation, various first- and third-degree burns, cardiac arrest and death.
The severity of the accident depends on multiple factors – voltage type, current strength, contact surface, the path followed by electricity through the body, the duration… It also depends on what happens after the electric shock – unconsciousness and falls also have their consequences. The danger is not only immediate: an electrocuted heart may stop after a few hours following the accident. An ECG is conducted on the patient to determine the risks.
The problem is that accidents happen inevitably. This is the unfortunate statistical reality of a world connecting millions of people to millions of electrical devices. There are fewer cases in the sector (electricians and professionals staffing power plants and construction sites) who are trained and equipped. On the other hand, since they work with much higher voltages, their accidents are much more serious.
The issue is particularly relevant to the Austrian company Omicron Electronics, a leader in testing, diagnostic and monitoring solutions for the power industry. Its technicians and customers are among people exposed. Omicron Electronics has assigned one of its entities, Adresys to find the best way to react in case of electrical accidents.
Adresys started by doing market research but couldn’t find any solutions. No problem for Omicron’s R&D centre (since its acquisition in 2012), it decided to develop its own. The prerequisites were simple: detect accidents, raise the alarm and notify the emergency contacts as quickly as possible.
In late 2021, after four years of arduous work, Adresys launched its product on the German-speaking market. Its terrific innovation is –drum roll please – a… T-shirt ?
Yes, a T-shirt. And much more : Angel React Shirt System is a complete high-tech solution, built around an “ intelligent clothing ”concept.
The simple appearance was intentional. The solution was to be adopted naturally by the users, so what more ordinary than a T-shirt?
Companies are happy with it, as it is available in several coulors and their logo can be integrated. The smart shirt is sweat- and wash-resistant.
Its technology is integrated into the fabric (organic-certified cot-ton). There are electrodes in the sleeves, maintained in contact with the skin by spandex cuffs (the biceps of future users will need to be carefully measured to guarantee proper functioning). There is a tex-tile cable – invisible and unperceivable – that goes along the back to carry data collected by the electrodes to the left shoulder.
The left shoulder is where the Shirt Genius “ the brain ” of the Angel React system is located. A small device that needs to be placed inits cradle – where it is held in place by magnets – to be activated. Genius’ processor applies Ohm’s law : it deduces the current running through the victim based on the voltage measured by the electrodes and the body’s resistance. In addition, Genius uses sensors enabling its algorithms to detect falls and immobility. It is also equipped with a loudspeaker and its ringtone alerts other people nearby. Electricians and technicians often work alone, so Adresys did not stop there.
The main alert goes through Angel React’s third component : a dedicated application on the user’s smartphone. Genius is connected toit by Bluetooth (it will beep if the user moves away and risks losing the connection). The application shows live data and reaches out toas many as three designated emergency contacts. By a voice call, atext message and an (optional) e-mail, to maximise the chances of reaching the contacts.
These messages indicate who the victim is, its location (via the smartphone’s GPS) as well as the type of accident (electrical, fall or immobility). The interface also enables the casualty, if conscious, to text these people without having to switch to another application. A link to Google Maps helps the contact persons to join the victim. Everything, absolutely everything has been considered to facilitate a reaction.
The application also allows to programme the scheduled duration of risky interventions. If the worker doesn’t confirm the end of his/her mission, an alarm is raised, with the last registered GPS position.
The recorded data is transmitted only in case of an alarm. Adresys collects this autonomously to enhance the algorithms of its application. Only for that : the solution has been designed with “ privacy first ”. Impossible for an employer to use it to trace employees.
T-Shirt, Genius and the dedicated application make up the Angel React Shirt system. Adresys proposes an additional option to further improve the victims’ chances : Watchdog. This accurately named device (equipped with REDEL SP connectors) connects to the source of the power supply, be it a test device or a laboratory power supply. If an Angel React T-shirt detects an accident, the watchdog switches off the voltage source immediately, within a few milliseconds, which is much faster than a colleague dashing to push a big red button.
Reaction speed is literally vital in case of an electrical accident. On the one hand, the harm and consequences of an electric shock depend largely on its duration. On the other, muscle cramp, cause an electric shock can sometimes prevent the victim from releasing the electrocuting device. By cutting off the current flow (even in cases of a fall or immobility), the Watchdog also contributes to securing the area for those who, not always conscious of the danger, rush to help the victim.
Launched two years ago on a limited market, the Angel React System is only in the early stages of its story. Among its 200 customers, there are also some pilot companies testing the solution and giving precious feedback. One of them being ABB eMobility, who build electric car charging infrastructure.
Adresys, whose first own branded product is Angel React, will extend its market in 2024. It will sell its smart T-shirt in Scandinavia, in the UK and in southern Europe. The company, with its staff of 30 people in Salzburg, has also been working on the integration of new functionalities.
It will enable them to react even better and faster. And to save even more lives.