Too tired to work safely? These wearables can tell you (and in some cases, your supervisor).
Like everyone else, construction workers, including drivers and equipment operators, sometimes come to work tired or get tired during a long shift. Unlike everyone else, they may experience or cause a serious accident as a result. At the very least, fatigue decreases productivity.
Forward-looking construction companies are getting serious about tackling fatigue on the job, and some are using sensor-embedded wearables to help them do it. Here’s a sampling of the products out there.
Optalert’s drowsiness detection glasses
Hidden in the frame of Optalert’s drowsiness detection glasses, targeted at drivers and operators, is an LED that tracks the speed of your blink rates and how far your eyelid opens after closing. The data is translated into a number on a scale of one to ten, with ten being “very drowsy.” Any change outside the norm triggers an alarm on a Bluetooth-connected smartphone or wrist device that alerts the wearer that his or her attention is waning.
LifeBand by SmartCap Technologies
Bluetooth-enabled LifeBand by SmartCap attaches into a cap or hard hat (or you can wear it on its own) and measures brain wave activity through a mini electroencephalogram (EEG). The brain waves indicate your ability to resist sleep and can reveal the onset of microsleep, or brief episodes of nodding off or otherwise losing attention. A smartphone app uses visual and audible alerts to warn you when you’re getting tired.
Because the device connects to the cloud, supervisors can see real-time data and use it to adjust shift schedules and encourage breaks. Workers can use the data to brainstorm fatigue management plans with supervisors.
These Smart Shirts are designed for runners but could be suitable for workers, too. The Bluetooth-equipped shirts, which look like workout shirts, use embedded sensors to monitor various biometrics including heart rate, breathing rate and heart rate variability, which can indicate stress and fatigue. Breathable and machine-washable, they provide more than 600 hours of recording time and connect ECG data to analytics software through a smartphone app. Workers can track their activity in real time and view their data on Hexoskin's online dashboard.
Readiband by Fatigue Science
Fatigue Science’s Readiband doesn’t monitor alertness during work; rather, you wear it on your wrist during sleep and it tells you how well you slept and predicts the impact on your level of fatigue.
The wrist band detects the number of sleep interruptions and the consistency of sleep and wake times, among other sleep factors, and transmits the data to the cloud for analysis. Out comes a fatigue score. Another level of analysis predicts how your level of fatigue will affect your alertness and response times through the day or night.
More devices to come
The next generation of fatigue sensors seem more like something you’d wear to the gym. They analyze sweat and measure skin temperature as well as glucose, lactate, sodium and potassium levels to produce real-time alerts about fatigue, dehydration and stress.
A wide-awake (and well-hydrated) employee is a safer, more productive one. Simply being aware of worker fatigue can help everyone involved manage the problem of on-the-job tiredness and ensure that workers go home in one piece.
John Ross has written about industrial, automotive, and consumer technologies for 17 years.
Photo Credit: Optalert