Operator/driver fatigue is responsible for significant injuries and losses in a number of industries throughout the world. The SmartCap is a fatigue measurement and management tool for vehicle drivers or operators of heavy equipment that provides real-time measurements of fatigue, which can be used to dramatically reduce the occurrence of serious and minor safety incidents.
The SmartCap, a baseball cap containing sophisticated sensors concealed in the cap lining, uses an operatorís brain wave (EEG) information to calculate a measure of drowsiness, which is wirelessly communicated to a display in-cab, or to any Bluetooth enabled device. This has been made possible by the development of small sensors capable of reading EEG through hair, without the need for any scalp preparation. With the look and feel of a typical baseball cap, the SmartCap overcomes the operator acceptance problems experienced by sites that in the past have implemented camera or response based technologies.
Communicating fatigue levels
The SmartCap processes brain wave information and determines the wearerís level of alertness every second. Confirmed alertness/fatigue information is displayed to the user on a fixed or mobile Bluetooth enabled device such as a mobile phone, PDA, or on a slimline or industrial SmartCap touch screen display.
If no confirmed level of fatigue is established within any two-minute period, the display is updated letting the operator know that their fatigue level is unknown. Of course, the system continues to function and reports a confirmed level of fatigue as soon as it is established. The system is also capable of determining when the cap is not in use (not being worn on the head), but still connected by Bluetooth to the display (e.g. on the seat beside the driver, or resting on the drivers lap). Within 15 seconds, the system status is changed to "cap off".
Not just for mining....
The Australian mining industry supported the development of the SmartCap technology as part of a continued effort to improve the safety of their employees; however it can be used in any setting where an individual can wear a baseball cap.
Examples of non-mining applications include highway truck drivers, rail conductors, bus drivers, loading-dock crane operators and marine pilots.
The SmartCap system is now commercially available. Since fatigue poses risks in many settings, both on and off site, the SmartCap system has been developed with flexibility in mind, providing configurations for use in both heavy equipment and light vehicles.
At this time we are focusing on commercial sales, particularly road freight, mining and heavy industry. We are experiencing significant demand for the system, and understand that any delay can be frustrating. Please contact us with your specific needs and we will let you know how a catered solution can fit within your fatigue management framework.
The technology behind the SmartCap was developed within CRCMining, a Cooperative Research Centre established by the Australian government, supported by four universities and 13 industry partners including equipment manufacturers and mining companies. Anglo American Metallurgical Coal (previously Anglo Coal Australia) and the Australian Coal Association Research Program (ACARP) supported this work for a number of years, which led to two successful field trials at central Queensland surface mining operations, where it was used by operators in haul trucks, excavators, dozers, graders and water trucks.
CRCMining is making the SmartCap commercially available through its new subsidiary company EdanSafe Pty Ltd, a manufacturer and seller of technology solutions for the heavy industry, transport, safety and private & public health sectors, with a strong focus on internal research and development for the creation of new technologies in all aspects of workplace health and safety.