Three Mine Communicators are shown with different UI screen captures. One mine communicator is ringed in green LEDs to indicate a message has been received.

Mine Communicator

A critical component of safety is real-time communication, but communicating with widely dispersed workers in an underground mine, where cell phones and other common communication devices cannot be used for safety reasons, requires special considerations. A communication system in that type of environment has to be able to overcome problems such as signal breakdown, inconsistent power availability, volatile working environments, and a variety of other issues. To ensure safe and effective communications in these difficult conditions, Strata developed StrataConnect™, a wireless communications and tracking system that allows for communications both within the mine and to and from surface operations.

Daedalus was asked to work with Strata on the design and development of a handheld mobile device that would use the StrataConnect™ system to provide two-way communications and personal location tracking for workers, as well as issue instant critical alerts in emergency situations.

In collaboration with Strata, our industrial designers and mechanical engineers devised the second-edition Miner Communicator or MC2. Weighing only a few ounces and designed for easy manufacturability, the MC2 features a full QWERTY keyboard, physical navigation keys on the face of the unit, a large full graphic display, and a long-lasting rechargeable battery. Audible alerts and multi-colored indicators around the outside of the device, which are visible from every angle, indicate when a new message is received or when an alarm has been issued.

Our UX designers and software engineers designed and developed the MC2 interface to be easy to use under harsh circumstances. During alert situations, clearly identifiable broadcast alert messages allow the miner to quickly assess the situation and respond with his or her condition, including a call for help, if necessary. The UI easily switches between smaller and larger font sizes for better visibility, groups messages by conversation, and provides easy access to contacts and to a “find miner” function.

Finally, our engineers also designed single and multiple docks for the MC2 that provide charging and automatic updates for contacts and firmware.

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