When we first reported on the SmartCap early this year, the fatigue-monitoring system was being developed for use in the mining industry. Now, eight months after going to market, the SmartCap is being put to the test at sea.
Developed in Australia, the SmartCap is a washable cap incorporating waterproof sensors in the lining that are able to measure electrical activity from the brain and gauge the wearers fatigue levels. No prior preparation of the scalp is necessary and the accuracy of the fatigue measurements have been independently validated. SmartCap is also medically certified as safe to wear.
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Initial trials in the mining industry have been completed in both live and offsite vehicles throughout Australia and overseas, with a mine in Chile now using the SmartCap on its bus drivers who ferry workers 125 miles (200 km) to and from the local airport. Other mining customers currently making use of SmartCap technology include Rio Tinto, Newcrest Mining, Anglo American and B & J Catalano.
SmartCap is now in the process of branching out to other industries and Australian maritime company Australian Reef Pilots (ARP) is leading the way with trials of the SmartCap.
ARP is developing a rigorous scientific study program using SmartCaps and Readibands (a watch that monitors wrist movements to determine quality of sleep) to undertake one of the most comprehensive maritime fatigue studies in Australia.
ARP CEO Simon Meyjes sees SmartCap as another tool in the company’s array of sophisticated technological innovations to enhance ship, crew and environmental safety.
“This is a self-monitoring system enabling the SmartCap wearer to accurately determine how they’re coping on-the-job, signalling when it is time to take appropriate steps to manage fatigue.” says Meyjes.
The wearer’s alertness is assessed on a 2 to 4 scale with an audible fatigue warning activated if the level reaches 3 or higher. This notifies the wearer that a "micro sleep" episode may occur.
SmartCap developer Dr Dan Bongers says that because fatigue is a significant threat in the maritime industry it seemed a natural fit to trial a technology that has been successfully deployed onshore.
“This mine-to-brine transition is a natural progression in an industry where there’s so much at stake,” says Dr Bongers.
Other key industries to express interest in SmartCap technologies are the Transport and Logistics industry, Aviation, and Defence.
"Whilst the SmartCap is currently configured to monitor fatigue levels, it has the potential to be further developed for other applications," Dr Bongers told Gizmag. "Although Smartcap is currently sold as a standalone product it can be integrated with other systems. For example, the Transport and Logistcs industry are looking at integrating SmartCap functions into their existing touchscreen systems."
SmartCap is currently available in three styles along with a headband and visor version. A hardhat version is at the prototype stage and a beanie version is also in development. SmartCap pricing is available upon request.