It often occurs, that by simply adding a new function to a working system, it can offer a solution to a problem that we haven’t even thought of when developing it.

This is what happened to one of our projects – we created a system which can detect the distance of a forklift, using the benefits of our indoor localization and real time tracking system: Tracker.

A study in Germany showed that in huge warehouses, significant part of the accidents is caused by vehicles. Limited seeing and hearing conditions and narrow spaces may lead to dangerous collisions. To prevent these kinds of accidents, we created the forklift proximity detect system. We only need a Huawei Watch 2 smartwatch and some tags that allow us to track the vehicles. These tags are capable of locating the speed and the path of the vehicles.

We place tags onto the forklifts and in the pockets of the workers, they communicate via BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) technology with the smartwatch wore on the wrist. Thanks to this communication, the watch can notify the worker when a forklift truck is coming, preventing the collision that sometimes could be mortal. We use UWB technology to determine the distance between the two tags.

The usage of the application is easy to learn – it starts running right after the installation and it turns to monitoring mode immediately. Users can easily understand the operation of the application as we designed it to show only the necessary information making it obvious to use.

There are three types of signals, depending on the distance between the vehicle and the worker wearing the smartwatch:

  • Default – no dangerous vehicle nearby
  • Warning alarm – there is a forklift truck within 10 meters, in this situation the watch notifies with vibration
  • Danger alarm – when the vehicle is within 5 meters the notification is red color and intense vibration

In certain situations, the forklift and the worker are close to each other on purpose. To avoid constant vibration, we built in a pause function. By pressing pause, we can stop the vibration and the visual sign for a minute.

The application runs on Android based Wear OS operating system, and we started to develop for Apple Watch in the past few months.

Testing phase started in August, since we are working on developing the system using practical experiences and feedbacks from our business partner, in order to make the daily work easier and safer in the near future.