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Image: Ford

Assembly line workers at Ford’s production facility in Valencia, Spain, are testing bodysuits incorporating tracking technology, with a view to improving workstation ergonomics. The technology, often used by sports stars to analyse their games (or for replication of their style in video games) records how a person moves, especially their head, neck, shoulder and limb actions.

The skin-tight bodysuits, developed in collaboration with Instituto Biomecánica de Valencia, have been trialled by 70 employees in 21 work areas of the factory. They have 15 tiny light sensors to track movements, connected to a wireless detection unit; four motion-tracking cameras are also placed near the worker and a 3D animation of them is created. The data captured is then used by ergonomists, who can advise the employees on how best to align their posture, and measurements – such as height or arm length – can be captured by the system to better-design individual workstations.

Ford is planning to roll this technology out across its other European facilities. “It’s been proven on the sports field that with motion tracking technology, tiny adjustments to the way you move can have a huge benefit,” Javier Gisbert, production area manager at the Ford Valencia Engine Assembly Plant, said in a statement: “For our employees, changes made to work areas using similar technology can ultimately ensure that, even on a long day, they are able to work comfortably.”

-Farah Alkhalisi