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Numii®, Occupational Health in the Digital Age

In joining forces, they aim to revolutionise the world of Occupational Health thanks to their Numii® project, developed to improve the detection and analysis of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). We met the two men behind the project - not only do they think alike, their names are rather similar too: David Daney, researcher at INRIA and AUCTUS team leader, and Cyril Dané, CEO of AIO.

How and why did you start working together?

David Daney : What brought us together in the first place was a shared vision of strain in the workplace. On my side, the AUCTUS team aims to design robots to assist humans. To do that, you have to know how the human body functions and what the situations are in which it is at risk. Only then can you design the optimal form of interaction between human and robot.

Cyril Dané : At AIO, we started out with a desire to tackle a problem: in industry, very little has changed in the last twenty years as far as the operators are concerned, especially when it comes to strenuous work conditions. Yet the consequences are far-reaching. According to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (OSHA), strenuous health and safety conditions at work cost the European Union 467 billion euros every year, resulting in a loss of 3.3% of GDP!

How will Numii® revolutionise the Factory of the Future?

Cyril Dané : Numii® is the first industrial connected object ever to generate the first database on human work. Placed next to a person at work and, with just one click, you can measure their movements and stress in realtime. You can therefore instantly visualise if they are in discomfort and then propose solutions to improve that. There is also a log that can be used to individually monitor every employee. But it does a lot more than that, since all the data collected will then be processed, made anonymous, and entered in a database that can be used for scientific research to improve workers' health. We have opted for a unique business model geared to big data collection. Local authorities and companies will thus pay a modest fee – around 20 or 30 euros – to use the solution, and the scientific community will then have open access to the data collected. In 2018, we aim to collect over a million measurements!

David Daney : This solution is a significant step forward in reducing strain at work, especially in sectors such as construction and industry where work is particularly heavy. I would also emphasise the fact that Numii® is more than just the product. It is this business model itself that will open up radical new avenues of scientific research. It means we can observe an operator over the long term. With such a comprehensive analysis, we will deepen our understanding of strain. We will then be able to design robots that are much more effective in reducing strain. But that's not all. For the individual worker, it means much better working conditions. For the company, it means improving productivity in a way that takes account of the operators' well-being. And for the Social Security system, that results in lower healthcare expenditure. Its value to medical science and to society cannot be underestimated.

So, what's the next step?

Cyril Dané : We have just got back from the CES in Las Vegas, where we presented Numii®. We've had very positive feedback, and we are now launching a campaign to demonstrate the solution to companies in the logistics, manufacturing and building sectors. In the short term, we want to deliver it to the French manufacturer with which we have been developing Numii® in the Spring. We still have a couple of modifications to make. Don't forget, Numii® must be a quality industrial product with high use value to the company that deploys it.

David Daney : Looking ahead to the longer term, a number of scientific challenges have been identified, but there are still many more that are bound to come to light. In fact, the more data we collect, the more we will be in a position to identify new issues – for instance, regarding work strategies. That could open up some very interesting areas of research for the future.

To conclude, apart from Numii®, how has this first collaborative project changed the way you work?

Cyril Dané : Working with the AUCTUS team and David is incredibly inspiring. The ways in which they reflect back to us and question everything, have made us change our minds about lots of technical points during the development of Numii®.

David Daney : We really do have the same idea about where we want to go with the product and what the philosophy behind it is. So we can challenge each other, primarily about its functions and implementation, the type of sensors to use, etc. On that basis, we develop our use-case iterations withPOCs(“proofs of concept”), which must be viable from the start through to the end of the project. That's possibly the thing that has really been new for me: to carry out research with long-term goals while also developing deliverables – POCs – as you go, and that can actually be used. 

Keywords: MSD Health Strenuousness at work Collaboration Connected object

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