Fall protection equipment in the safety industry has saved the lives of countless workers, preventing a simple slip from turning into a deadly fall. But fall protection only works when the gear is worn properly and when it properly connects the wearer to a secure anchor point.MSA Safety asked us to collaborate with their engineering team to design a first-in-class product that would improve the safety outcomes of workers relying on fall protection equipment. The resulting product, an intelligent sensor hook, is one of the first of its kind in the safety industry and is designed for lift workers in warehouses and fulfillment centers. The sensor hook functions much like a seatbelt alarm in a car. If the hook senses that the equipment is in motion and the hook is not clipped onto the wearer's harness, it will beep to alert the user that they are not properly secured and turn on a red, flashing light. The hook is outfitted with an accelerometer to sense movement, and both the hook and the attachable harness anchor point utilize RFID technology to forge a signal connection. The final product was the result of multiple rounds of field research, prototyping, and testing to determine the most viable use cases, as well as multiple rounds of design revisions to improve functionality. One of the main challenges with this project was designing something that was sensitive enough to detect when the hook isn’t properly connected but rugged enough to withstand an industrial or warehouse environment, while also being small enough to not interfere with the clip on the retractable lifeline. Another challenge was identifying signaling technology that would ensure a reliable connection between the hook and the harness anchor point even in the presence of reflective metal or excessive movement. After multiple rounds of prototyping and revisions, the final design is unobtrusive, reliably detects a proper connection, and can hold up to the 24/7 warehouse schedule. The sensor hook comes standard with the V-TEC® io1 Self-Retracting Lifeline and the RFID anchor point affixes to the standard D-rings of MSA V-FORM safety harnesses for seamless integration with existing harness stock, which helps keep costs lower for potential customers. By introducing digital technology to its fall protection gear, MSA is breaking new ground in what has historically been a very analog, hardware-centric space. From both a safety and a regulatory perspective, this device is poised to ensure compliance with safety regulations and will help prevent injuries and save lives.