Mine Communicator

A primary key for safety is 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 environment has to be able to overcome problems like signal breakdown, lack of power in some areas, volatile working environments, and a myriad of other issues. To ensure safe and effective communications in these difficult conditions, Strata developed StrataConnect™, a wireless communications and tracking system that provides for communications within the mine and to and from surface operations.

Daedalus was asked to collaborate with Strata on the design and development of a hand-held mobile device that would use the StrataConnect™ system to provide two-way communications for workers, personal location tracking, and instant critical alerts with response functions in emergency situations.

In collaboration with Strata, our industrial designers and mechanical engineers devised the MC2. Weighing a few ounces and designed for manufacturability, it features a full QWERTY keyboard with navigation keys as physical buttons on the face of the unit, a large and full-graphic display, and a long-lasting rechargeable battery. Audible alerts and multi-colored indicators around the outside of the device that 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, when 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.

Our engineers also designed single and multiple docks for the MC2 that provide charging and automatic update functions for contacts and firmware.

Training and Facilitation
Interface Design
Industrial Design
Human Factors
Ethnographic Research
Mechanical Engineering
Electrical Engineering
Software Engineering
Full Service Development