Audi has begun using smart gloves from Munich-based startup ProGlove in its international logistics department at the Audi plant in Ingolstadt, where the group handles the worldwide dispatch of car components.
The glove—named “Mark”—has an embedded barcode scanner on its back; employees trigger the scanning function by pressing the thumb and first finger together. As a result, the users have both hands free and can work more ergonomically, without needing to pick up and put down a conventional barcode scanner. After a four week pilot phase, Audi employees are now using ten of these wearables in five positions in the Ingolstadt plant.
|Mark and Mark in use at the Ingolstadt site. Click to enlarge.
The development of ProGlove follows the idea that wearable electronics have to support the employees. That’s why we have developed a light glove for industry that is intuitive to use, and which can be deployed without any integration expense.—Thomas Kirchner, CEO of ProGlove
The intelligent glove has an ergonomically optimized trigger button on the index finger, which operates the scanner when it is pressed against the thumb. The employee doesn’t have to focus on the barcode, because the scanning function is integrated in the natural hand movement. By means of optical (LED light), acoustical (buzzer) and tactile (vibration) signals, the user knows that the article has been scanned.
The scanner communicates with the receiver unit by radio. This access point is connected via USB or a normal serial connector; the installation of additional software is not necessary. The battery charge is designed to last for the period of a working shift and can then be fully recharged within two hours.
Audi’s deployment of the Mark gloves in the CKD Packing area is the first step towards widespread use of wearables in production. In parallel with CKD Packing in Ingolstadt, the glove is also being tested in pilot phases in other areas of production at Audi.
ProGlove was founded in December 2014 by Thomas Kirchner (CEO), Jonas Girardet (CTO), Paul Günther (Product Engineer) and Alexander Grots (Advisor) after winning the Intel “Make It Wearable” Challenge in Silicon Valley. This year, ProGlove has successfully closed its first funding round of $2.2 million led by Intel Capital, GETTYLAB, and Bayern Kapital.
ProGlove’s goal is to bring wearables to industrial environments and prepare the worker for Industry 4.0.