AI camera technology has been around for several years and has become part of the ergonomics assessor’s armoury, delivering increasingly impressive results.

AI camera technology is now a tried and tested technology and tech developers are working closely with ergonomists to combine their respective expertise – although not all technologies are the same and some do parts of the job better than others.

Keep reading as we explain how AI camera technology is helping to reduce musculoskeletal pain and injuries to industrial workers.

What is AI camera technology?

By simply feeding a video of a worker in action into a web-based software, organisations can track and evaluate the ergonomic risks of their operations without the need for any physical sensors or equipment.

Depending on the vendor you can pick up the basic movements (bending, twisting, lifting, etc) and create basic reports, or, as the technology improves, you can have algorithms calculating force and even analysing parts of the body the camera can’t see in the recorded actions.

We’re also seeing the emergence of AI-driven solutions that can take feeds from existing close-circuit TV and provide instant alerts to workers if a movement (or sequence of movements) highlights a potential enhanced risk.

Welcoming a new era of ergonomics

The value AI camera technology brings to ergonomics is impossible to overstate. A simple smartphone video is all it takes to get a real-time analysis and breakdown of the strain a work task has on someone’s body. In the end, this protects those on the frontline and equips management to quickly communicate issues and address risks.

Various technology providers have published case studies with upwards of 70% reduction in musculoskeletal pain and injury with subsequent reduction in absenteeism, presenteeism and worker-related claims (workers’ comp, employers’ liability, and healthcare).

AI camera technology uses computer vision algorithms to analyse uploaded images or video of a worker carrying out a task and then calculates body joint angles, ultimately providing comprehensive feedback on body joint positions and where and when risk is highest.

The collaboration between ergonomists and tech developers is pivotal. An ergonomist’s innovative ideas are not going to be the same as those of developers, yet the latter are essential to bringing these ideas to fruition, and we are seeing the emergence of new technologies monthly.

AI camera technology has enhanced ergonomic assessments in every scenario and environment we’ve used it in so far, from manufacturing to care homes, mines to housekeeping.

AI camera technology vs. sensors for ergonomics assessment

By feeding in the repetition of a task upfront, AI camera footage can minimise or eliminate interference with the day-to-day work, unlike sensors. Furthermore, AI camera technology doesn’t require an expensive onsite ergonomist.

The videos can be taken by a line manager and then uploaded so virtual experts can review multiple videos, enhancing efficiency and reducing the costs associated with sensor-led industrial risk assessments.

Below is a full list of benefits AI camera technology brings to ergonomics:

  • Remote assessments – Anyone on-site (or at home) can take a video of themselves or someone else working. It’s then just a quick upload so the software can perform its analysis and the ergonomist can put together their feedback.
  • Reliable, unbiased data – Machines and algorithms can provide more accurate and less subjective data than human beings.
  • Decision-making – Instead of the more traditional approach of reporting hard-to-interpret scores to management, we found that visualising the outputs (e.g. superimposing colour-coded body joints on top of the video) makes it much easier to see risks and convince managers of the need for change. The better decision makers can understand risks, the more engaged and willing to make changes they are.
  • Training and behaviour change – AI camera technology is highly effective in training workers and supervisors. By visualising the problem, you make it easier for everyone to visualise the solution and understand why a change is needed.
  • Comparison – These technologies offer a new level of comparison between different methods of carrying out the same task by contrasting the ergonomic risks. Crucially, this opens the door for easily assessing the effectiveness of interventions.

The role of ergonomists with motion capture technology

An expert ergonomist still has a crucial part to play, as does the manual handling expert. Clearly, the technology is great for data collection, but an ergonomist still needs to apply their expertise to find the correct intervention whether that be a new approach to the task, manual handling training or new equipment to reduce the risks.

In other words, the technology helps you identify what needs to be changed. The ergonomist tells you how to change it.

The potential benefits of AI camera technology to ergonomics are significant and are already demonstrating success in a range of sectors, including industrial manufacturing, construction, utilities, continuing care, operating rooms, and healthcare among many more. However, we understand that it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Whilst Cardinus is a firm believer in motion capture advancements, we take an agnostic view, believing that no single technology is ideal for all sectors, and with the pace of innovation, we continue to research each solution and understand its best applicability on an ongoing basis.

Our approach is to focus on the data and the best intervention to reduce risk and deliver subsequent benefits to our clients.

The power of aggregation

Cardinus and our partner Longitude6 offer technologies for all the variables and aggregates to create the right solution for your organisation. AI Camera Technology enhances this due to the speed and accuracy of the data outputs, but more importantly, the data can be better aligned with other technology outputs, enabling aggregation and effective analytics. To find out how Cardinus can help you, please contact us.

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