Mauricio Contreras

SoluNova: Wearables for workers safety

At SoluNova, I helped develop award winning wearable products to keep industrial workers safe and connected.

Mobile Monitoring Station

Mobile Monitoring Station: smart monitoring jacket

In my EE thesis I had done applied research into using an Arduino like platform along with several sensors (air pollution, noise and lighting) to monitor the environment that miners experience. Jorge Morales, an industrial designer, came up with the idea of embedding this system into a jacket. I developed the electronics and wireless communication software for the jacket and we tested it in Andina, an underground copper mine from the project's sponsor, Codelco, where we harvested great interest.

MMS system diagram

Upon joining SoluNova, I saw the market opportunity for wearables in mining, but the monitoring jacket we had developed seemed too complex for the market at that time, so we decided to develop masks with communication (see below). Couple of years later, with wearables now a tech market category, we decided to revisit the idea of the jacket and submitted it to he Intel Global Challenge. We had the great honor of winning this competition, out of 18,000 entrants. This was a clear indicator that the market may now be interested in this product, which I now remotely collaborate with.

Intercom M900: respiratory mask with communication

The first time I visited an underground mine I had to use a half face respirator to be able to breathe, and thought: "wow, I can't talk with this!". People are used to removing their masks in order to talk, which defeats the purpose of the protection. I estimated we could (easily) embed a microphone and earphones in the workers protective gear and hence offer the possibility to communicate without removing the mask. We partnered with Masprot, a Chilean company with 40+ years of experience in Personal Protective Gear, to develop what became the Intercom M900. We now have a superb quality mask with communication, certified by NIOSH, and with an international patent pending.

M900 Intercom