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SmartCap monitors workers' fatigue levels by reading their brain waves

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January 30, 2012

The SmartCap is a device that monitors workers' fatigue levels by monitoring their brain w...

The SmartCap is a device that monitors workers' fatigue levels by monitoring their brain waves

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You don't need to be an expert in occupational safety to know that worker fatigue is one of the leading causes of workplace accidents - this particularly applies to people who operate heavy machinery or drive for a living. While it would be great if all employees simply took a break when fatigue started setting in, it can sometimes be difficult for people to tell just how tired they really are. That, or they decide that they just want to push through and get the job done, drowsiness be damned. A relatively new invention from Australia's EdanSafe, however, takes the guesswork out of the picture. It's called the SmartCap, and it measures employee fatigue in real time by monitoring its wearer's brain waves.

The washable cap incorporates waterproof sensors in its lining, which are able to measure electrical activity originating in the brain, at the scalp level. No preparation of the scalp is necessary.

Once every second, a custom algorithm analyzes the data, to determine the wearer's level of alertness. This information is transmitted by Bluetooth to a linked device such as a smartphone or the dedicated SmartCap touchscreen monitor, where the user will be able to see a visual display of their fatigue level - if that level drops to dangerous levels, audible and visual alarms will be activated. The sensors are able to tell when the cap isn't being worn, so simply taking it off to hide one's fatigue isn't an option.

The SmartCap touchscreen display doubles as a single-card charger

Along with the sensors, each cap features a removable card-like module that contains the core electronics. This attaches to the underside of the brim when the cap is being worn, but can be docked in a base unit (or in the touchscreen display) for recharging and testing when "off duty."

The system can be used in an offline stand-alone format, or it can be linked into the SmartCap Fatigue Manager Server. Using that technology, supervisors can monitor the output of multiple caps in real time, or look back over an employee's past shift to check what fatigue levels they experienced.

Initially developed for use in the mining industry, the SmartCap is presently still being field tested by industrial partners, but should reportedly be available for sale early this year. A headband version is also in production, and a hard hat is in development.

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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7 Comments

Nonsense. People know when they're tired- bosses don't care.

William H Lanteigne
30th January, 2012 @ 10:25 pm PST

And soon a "normal" pattern will emerge, and then "abnormal" people will be criticized and warned to do better, and it will appear in their reviews, and their position in the company will deteriorate until they leave or are fired. When actually nothing happened.

Hey, just what we need...another artificial perspective from which to pretend to judge people.

We're all the same and everything is grey.

FastGuy
31st January, 2012 @ 01:09 am PST

I'm sure the driver's know when they are exhausted but they are forced to keep driving by their employers. I don't think the trucking companys really want this device to prove they are pushing driver's beyond safe practices.

Ed Reed
31st January, 2012 @ 02:56 pm PST

William, if thres an abnormal pattern then it most likely wont show as fatigue, it will possible show as a brain abnormality. And Ed, it doesnt matter if the trucking companies want it or not, it will probably come to where it is required

Mark O'Hara
1st February, 2012 @ 06:24 am PST

Sleep and rest be damned.

junbug20
1st February, 2012 @ 07:54 am PST

Curious as to how much this will cost. I see it as an aid not only to professional drivers but also for everyone else. Would love to have this on my next cross country drive.

Yes, I know I'm tired, but sometimes a stimulus before your tires start the banging the bot dots would be helpful in knowing I'm over tired. Driver fatigue is a cause of a lot of car accidents . . . not just with professional drivers.

Zygo
1st February, 2012 @ 10:08 am PST

THiS will catch people dozing on the job, I guess this would be very beneficial for pilot's, bus drivers, train operators & jobs where people's lives depend on these people being alert & wide awake & operating at a normal levels & to be capable of noticing everything that's important to the job requirements.

Debra Rincon
1st February, 2012 @ 11:36 am PST
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