Wireless Communication Transforms Industrial Frontline

09/21/2023 | Diana Varga | 2 Min Read

Real-time audio, video, and accurate location tracking protects and boosts the productivity of industrial workers and front-line teams. Embedding wireless communication makes that possible.

What do frontline teams, industrial workers, and customer-facing professionals have in common? They are all exposed to certain risks that can be mitigated with timely feedback, valuable insight into their status and their surroundings.

Certain workplaces pose a greater risk to the safety, health, and productivity of workers than others. When intensive physical activity, heightened uncertainty, and extreme environmental conditions come into play, the risk of inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and workplace accidents increase. Based on a study from the International Labour Organization, 340 million occupational accidents happen every year. Yet, work related injuries can be significantly reduced when digitizing operations and equipping workers with connected wearable devices.


Smart and Connected with Workplace Wearables

Body-worn cameras (BWCs), personal protective equipment (PPE), gas or radiation monitors, and smart helmets are good examples of workplace wearables to monitor, manage, and optimize occupational safety and productivity. By embedding wireless connectivity into these devices, employers gather critical data on their assets, environmental conditions, workers’ daily activities and body status, and more. This data can be further integrated and analyzed via a wireless human-machine interface (HMI), with the goal of better-informed decisions, predictive maintenance, better workflow, and asset management.

Besides remote control, visibility at the field level, and situational awareness, wireless connectivity can also unlock an enhanced level of equipment customization. With a higher degree of visibility in the usage of their equipment, workers get to configure their tools to best cater to their profile and needs.


Video Streaming with Wi-Fi Enabled Body Cams

BWCs with built-in wireless communication is one of the wearable products that can help workforce take control over a situation, enabling immediate response and smarter operations. Frontline workers across medical research, retail and hospitality, and public safety, resort to BWCs to enhance accountability, documenting their daily activity.

Mobile video can be stored on the device for future upload to the cloud through a Wi-Fi router or by connecting to a local access point (AP) for live stream over Wi-Fi. Integration to other platforms can help facilitate data analysis to identify patterns, trends, and critical areas of improvement. Wi-Fi enabled cameras also facilitate configuration of setting and remote control, with firmware updates and software upgrades being rolled out with no physical access to each device.

For a robust Wi-Fi-enabled BWC design, device makers face various challenges in addressing battery lifetime span, wireless performance, and possible security threats.


Bluetooth Audio Communication Enables Workplace Efficiency

Workplace injuries not only damage the reputation of a company, but according to the 2022 Workplace Safety Index, can cost USA companies more than $58 billion every year. Fast incident response demands your workforce to always be connected. Robust, reliable, and secure connectivity supports them in well-documenting and managing unexpected situations. Connectivity goes beyond monitoring incidents. It also enables timely collaboration between teams and across your organization through real-time audio communication.

When designing your Bluetooth audio application, ensuring robust, high-quality audio streaming is key. Based on several criteria must considered starting with range, the required data rate, power consumption to pairing, security and interoperability with other devices.  


Real-time Location Tracking in Workplace Wearables

Accurate and reliable positioning provides tremendous benefits for improving occupational safety. Battery-powered, low-energy radio and radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, together with multiple location sensors help track both assets and personnel. Industrial workforce such as smart shoes, smart vests, or even wearable smart badges using Bluetooth location services capabilities are becoming increasingly widespread.Bluetooth empowers the design of real-time location solutions (RTLS), enabling Angle of Arrival / Departure (AoX) and High Accuracy Distance Measurement (HADM) techniques for sub-meter level location accuracy. This can be achieved by embedding Bluetooth Low Energy (LE) or a combination of low power Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE.  


Future-Proof Industrial Wearable Designs with Silicon Labs

Connectivity is in use across different worksites, from first responders, emergency professionals, healthcare facilities, private security, to construction sites. When embedding wireless connectivity, future-proofing designs with high-performance, robust, and secure RF performance is key. Learn more about how Silicon Labs supports leading device makers and the design considerations to consider in industrial environments, by visiting our dedicated application page on Industrial IoT.

Diana Varga
Diana Varga
IoT Marketing Manager
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