The signs and symptoms of “microsleeps” are quite obvious: a snapping head, tired eyes, and a blank stare, among others. It should be noted that “microsleeps” may occur when an individual is fatigued, but is trying to stay awake to perform a monotonous task like operating a heavy equipment like a grader, backhoe, bulldozer, and so on.
Because of the danger of the mentioned condition, a number of construction equipment manufacturers have developed a significant number of devices as well as accessories that are specifically designed to alert an operator who is unable to resist sleep. Caterpillar (aka Cat) Equipment, for instance, developed a fatigue monitoring system that is in the mould of a Fitbit device. Combined with dash cameras, this particular innovation can detect an individual who is suffering from lack of sleep.
Another entry to the fatigue-awareness technological race is the SmartCap, which was unveiled at the MINExpo last October and this wearable band is specifically designed to be synchronised to a smart phone app and rather than utilising in-cab cameras, it alerts drivers as well as operators when physiological symptoms arise. To add, the Australian company utilises electroencephalogram (EEG) to monitor fatigue.
“We’re not talking about detecting microsleeps, we’re in the business of eliminating them,” declares Dush Wimal, company CEO, in an interview on the show floor. “Physiological signs are a lagging indicator. We can intervene early, and stop you from having a microsleep altogether.”
SmartCap’s innovative accessory is completely wearable can be used together with whatever an individual uses as his/her headgear: hard hat, cowboy hat, ball cap, and headband to name a few. It can be fitted into a headgear. Rather than a monitoring device being imbedded in a particular equipment or machine, it is attached to the user; as such, he/she can be analyzed no matter where he/she goes or whatever he/she operates.