The Eindhoven Engine POWEr FITTing Project
Healthy employees make for a healthy company, which explains why leading European industrial regions like Brainport are keen to understand what defines a healthy work environment. The recent health crisis has made painfully clear how our society and economy are impacted when our well-being is threatened. Working from home has increased sitting time by almost 60 minutes a day. By thinking ahead, Brainport is harnessing partners’ talents, including Fontys, Hockey Club Oranje-Rood, IMEC-NL, TWICE, TNO Holst Centre and Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) to make the region not only the smartest region but also full of vitality. By collaborating in the FITT project, these organizations actively invest in healthy environments to develop intelligent, preventative and data-secure solutions that keep people active, healthy and resilient.
In the years leading up to the COVID outbreak, many Dutch companies faced rising figures for employee sick leave. In 2018, large corporations reported workforce absenteeism of around 5%, SME’s slightly lower at 3.8%. Both mental and physical illness was on the rise. And a study by TNO worked out that each workday lost through illness cost the company 250 Euro.
Inactivity in the workplace is a significant problem that poses serious health risks. So how can we stimulate people to exercise regularly? Intuitive technology can be integrated into all kinds of environments, fine-tuned to meet people’s needs—for instance, unique work walk routes, equipped with smart technology to stimulate an active way of working.
FITT technology explained
The challenge of keeping people vital and resilient has become more relevant than ever in the current pandemic – and with home working, it shows that a working environment is not confined to the office space. The growing popularity of smartwatches with inbuilt biosensors to measure heart rate and oxygen levels have caught the imagination of those who want to lead a healthier lifestyle. Even though they are rarely clinically certified, such devices do create awareness.
Technology has already helped increase people’s health awareness with wearables like smartwatches, but these are devices are mainly used by the health-conscious. With the technology developed by FITT partners, we can intuitively embed preventive technology into people’s daily routines. We are applying our expertise in body-monitoring solutions to deliver high-quality, multi-sensor data to create invisible, unobtrusive technology that we can integrate into the workplace. The hybrid electronics available within Holst Centre, where chip technology and free form electronics come together, are very suitable.
With the technology developed by FITT partners,
we can intuitively embed preventive technology
into people’s daily routines.
Environmental quality at work is more important than ever. At the test location, air quality, including aspects like particles, temperature and humidity, is constantly measured in real-time. This ensures that the smart climate control system based on algorithms can create an optimal but still generic working climate. Even the colour and intensity of the lighting can be adjusted to the tasks and biorhythm. The challenge is to tailor the environment to suit a specific person. Therefore, we need reliable data of someone’s physical state with sensors mounted close to the body instead of on the skin. The final step is to close the loop and improve someone’s wellbeing and productivity by adjusting the working environment.
The FITT partners have jointly created test office spaces at the High Tech Campus Eindhoven to put this technology to the test in a real-life working environment. It is known as the Workplace Vitality Hub, located on the High Tech Campus Eindhoven.
POWEr FITTing Project at Eindhoven Engine
Marieke van Beurden, Program Director Human Vitality & Technology at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), is the new Workplace Vitality Hub manager and leads the Eindhoven Engine POWErFITTing project. “This project is one of the first FITT vitality projects to be set up around the new vitality hub. We’re making active use of the broad network that the Eindhoven Engine offers.That starts by organizing brainstorming sessions between education organizations like the Eindhoven University of Technology and Fontys University of Applied Sciences and the large sports federations like the Dutch national hockey club Oranje Rood. But we are also finding practical applications for research projects using social feedback like Stimulight, which makes exercise data visible. So what we learn at the test site can also be directly applied in both classrooms and sports center.”
“Our link with the hockey club is not only fascinating but also quite logical. The Oranje Rood Hockey Club has a business network of around 120 SME companies operating in the Brainport region. These members are showing interest in making an active contribution to vitality awareness in the region. So that’s why the POWErFITTing project organizes vitality seminars and visits, as well as student hackathons around relevant technologies in the working environment.”