“As long as I remember, I’ve always been amazed by the complexity of industrial processes, trying to discover which is the secret behind automation systems and industrial robots.” So says Celia Garrido-Hidalgo, 23, who’s quickly making a name for herself by innovating in the industrial space and was most recently named a student finalist in the Imagine Blue awards program. When Celia visited factories as part of her education, she says she “could feel how operators risk their lives by exposing themselves to countless dangers,” and was inspired to create a system-wide change.

“Based on the growing necessity of improving working conditions,” says Celia, “I came up with the idea of using a non-intrusive wearable for tracking employees and, thus, contributing towards Human-in-the-Loop systems for the incoming industrial paradigm.” She began development of a device she calls OperaBLE, highlighting Bluetooth® low energy connectivity within the name. “I knew Bluetooth was the key for introducing digitalization into traditional factories,” she explains.

With university classes in the afternoons, Celia began spending her mornings working on the device. “The starting point to bring this concept to fruition was the deployment of a Bluetooth® low energy-based network in the Albacete Research Institute of Informatics,” she says.

OperaBLE, a wearable designed for factory workers, would use Bluetooth technology to communicate with static nodes, dynamic nodes, and beacons. It assimilates information from all these sources, as well as tracking ambient light, temperature, and other environmental factors, plus symptoms in the wearer such as fatigue, nervousness, or stress. Celia explains: “It is important for me to create devices that can intuitively interact and cooperate with users, being at the same time energy-efficient. OperaBLE is the perfect match of these requirements and can lead the new Industrial Revolution by enhancing production rates and minimizing accidents at work.”

Celia’s work on OperaBLE is ongoing — one reason why she’s excited about being an Imagine Blue finalist. “If I were to win, the first thing I would do is to acquire special-purpose hardware in order to optimize the prototype and, thus, minimize power consumption…I would carry out several experiments in a local factory with real operators until I reached a proper degree of fidelity under an energy-efficient approach. Additionally, I would embed sensors in regulatory industrial clothes (such as gloves or helmets) to start deploying cognitive Body Area Networks that will cooperate with Bluetooth® low energy-based mesh networks.”

Her interest in developing technologies is not at all new. “When I studied at school, physics was one of the subjects that mostly caught my attention because it nearly brought science fiction into reality,” Celia tells us. And, she’s always had incredible sources of inspiration: “I have always felt inspired by those who contribute with their findings to expand the frontiers of science towards a sustainable evolution of society,” she says. “Especially, I must highlight the influence of Nikola Tesla in my personal development. Tesla was one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, who contributed with revealing discoveries and inventions.”

Developing OperaBLE is only the beginning for Celia. “In the near future, I imagine myself developing IoT-based devices, such as wearables or smart sensors, for enhancing quality of life. In the distant future, I would like to take advantage of my experience as IoT developer and share my enthusiasm with younger generations. In any case, the only thing I know is: I will never stop learning.”

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