Monday, June 09, 2008

Hitachi, Osaka Gas Use Wearable Sensors to Raise White-collar Productivity

Motohiko Hamada, Nikkei Automotive Technology

Hitachi Ltd and Osaka Gas Co Ltd jointly developed a new analysis and assessment technology to improve white-collar productivity. Through a test, the companies confirmed that the technology helps quantitatively comprehend, for example, business activities and communications of white-collar employees inside an organization.

The analysis and assessment technology combines Hitachi's "Business Microscope," a system that visualizes activities in an organization using Hitachi's proprietary sensor technology incorporating infrared and acceleration sensors, and Osaka Gas' action monitoring technology.

Data will be stored after measuring the time of face-to-face communications between employees and their actions, for example, using the Business Microscope. Then the action data is analyzed by the action monitoring technology in an effort to actualize underlying problems. In action monitoring, action data is analyzed using knowledge such as human engineering, environmental psychology and gesture and expression analysis.

Combining each company's excellent sensor technology and action monitoring technology, the two companies conducted a verification test at the headquarters of Osaka Gas for four months from July to October 2007.

Through the test, in which 30 workers engaged in the information and communication department wore the sensors, the companies found the amount of communication with superiors doubled and the area of communication expanded beyond the organization in a free-address office, where employees have no fixed seat and sit in their favorite place in a common work space, compared with a fixed-address office.

The test also revealed realities concerning how long the employees concentrated on doing the same task and factors that interrupted their concentration.

The two companies are planning to conduct more verification tests to provide a consulting service to analyze and improve operations at general companies.


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