Fujitsu has developed stamp-sized wearable sensor tags that can detect whether users have changed their location or posture, fallen down or are experiencing high heat.
The tags transmit data via Bluetooth Low Energy and can be worn as wristbands or location badges on lapels or breast pockets. They could be used by people including hospital patients and infrastructure workers to relay data to supervisors.
The tags can also be attached to objects such as shopping carts or walkers for the elderly. They're part of a cloud-based Internet of Things (IoT) platform from Fujitsu called Ubiquitousware that's aimed at making IoT applications easier for businesses.
At a Fujitsu technology expo in Tokyo this week the company is showing off the prototype tags. They contain various sensors commonly found in smartphones such as accelerometers, barometers, gyroscopes and microphones. They can also house heart rate sensors and GPS modules.
The sensors are being housed in stand-alone tags to better promote IoT apps, according to Fujitsu.
Algorithms that are part of the platform analyze the sensor data and can automatically send alerts to supervisors when a patient has fallen down, for instance, or if a worker is experiencing a heavy physical load and heat while working on a tower for high-voltage cables.
"These sensors stand out for the many business apps such as medicine or security that are easily incorporated through our cloud solutions," said Tatsuhiro Ohira, a general manager in Fujitsu's Ubiquitous Business Strategy Unit.
As an extension of a company's awareness of its staff, the tags could raise privacy concerns. Fujitsu said the wristbands could also be used to estimate whether the wearer is taking breaks, or to help manage workers' health.
The sensors are to be rolled out beginning in December but the cost has not been determined yet, Ohira said.
Ubiquitousware has also been implemented in the latest version of Fujitsu's head-mounted display for workers. The device has a 0.4-inch display in front of one eye for looking at assembly manuals, as well as a camera, microphones and sensors such as an accelerometer to detect falls. Aimed at infrastructure and assembly workers, it can be attached to a hard hat and operated through voice commands or a wearable keyboard.
The display follows a prototype shown off earlier this year that works with a gestural ring and NFC technology.
Tim Hornyak covers Japan and emerging technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Tim on Twitter at @robotopia.