EasyM2M to launch underground wireless technology and iWristPhone for miners

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In order to facilitate two-way communications between miners and officials of the control rooms at the surface, a Bengaluru-based company, EasyM2M Technologies will introduce underground WiFi facility inside mines and wrist phones for miners to enable real time tracking, according to an ET report.

"One miner dies every third day. A lot of time is lost in miners trying to communicate to the surface during an accident, emergency, or even for quick advice on how to fix a machine," Priya Ranjan Kumar, founder of EasyM2M Technologies, told the financial daily.

EasyM2M Technologies has tied up with the Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL) to launch the WiFi service and wrist phones. ECL is a coal producer that owns 105 coal mines in the country, the majority of which lie in West Bengal and parts of Jharkhand.

Meanwhile, EasyM2M is part of Nasscom's 10,000 startups and TiE, and an incubatee at the International Institute of Information Technology Technology (IIITB).

Mines in India, both underground and opencast, generally have just one phone or an intercom device for miners to communicate with the monitoring and control rooms. But such systems barely work and are not very dependable, said Kumar.

Kumar and his team built wireless mesh networks to provide internet at all times to support the features of iWristPhone. Apart from WiFi and Bluetooth, the wearable has a gravity sensor that can detect miners falling and being trapped, can monitor and record their GPS coordinates every minute and has a three megapixel camera for video calls.

It can also measure the heart rate and blood pressure. The mobile application will record the data and can be used by those on the surface to communicate with the miners. Wireless mesh networks cost one-third the installation cost of regular WiFi networks, and eliminate the traditional coal mine monitoring systems that are wired network systems.

"Often, miners are trapped for hours when a hazard takes place. They could Skype with doctors and get on-demand medical advice when there is no way out. Video calls can be made to the rescue teams within minutes, something that would otherwise take hours," Kumar told the ET.

India has over 3,000 mines, according to government data, presenting a large opportunity for the company.

Mining hazards stem from all kinds of causes. Almost 45% of accidental hazards are due to unfore seen rooftop collapses, followed by rope haulage, and explosions and electricity malfunctions. The possibility of methane gas leaks and explosions in coal mines makes them more dangerous than gold and other metal and iron ore mines.
(Image: Reuters)
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