Fatigue detection technology company recognised by Harvard

Thursday, 04 July, 2013

Australian technology company Optalert has received validation for its real-time operator alertness monitoring system by academics from Harvard in the US.

Optalert CEO Scott Coles said Professor Czeisler of Harvard Medical School was part of a cross-institutional study concluding the Optalert fatigue detection product as setting the ‘gold standard’ in early fatigue detection - a key component of workplace safety.

“Recognition as holding the gold standard in safety is an extremely significant reference,” Coles said.

“The term goes beyond recognising we are world class and asserts our wearable technology products as setting the benchmark for early fatigue detection and risk reduction.”

Optalert’s fatigue detection products have been developed with more than 20 years of research by a team including current General Manager of Scientific Research Dr Andrew Tucker.

Dr Tucker said over the years the team developed new methods of measuring eye and eyelid movements. This then led to the world’s first validated scale of drowsiness - the Johns Drowsiness Scale - after Optalert founder and Chief Scientist Dr Murray Johns.

“From there we developed products to measure an operator’s fatigue levels in real time with the levels provided immediately to operators and their supervisor. This information enabled both the operator and supervisor to simply determine if their fatigue posed a potential risk to their safety and the safety of others,” Dr Tucker said.

“We are now on version eight of the product, and our results combined with the recent academic validation, demonstrating drowsiness can be predicted by ocular movements, means the Optalert product is the only scientifically proven real-time alertness monitoring system.”

Dr Tucker said while the academic validation was reassuring, the results out in the field of the many companies in which their products had been installed were most fulfilling.

“We are thrilled with the results we have received from the constant flow of incoming data we are obtaining from work sites all over the world,” Dr Tucker said.

“Not only are we helping prevent fatigue-related incidents but we are also effecting real behavioural change in our operators.

“Once operators see the daily information about their fatigue levels, it has been shown they are becoming more alert over time, meaning they are better managing their fatigue levels.”

The area of fatigue detection and management has become increasingly important as research suggests more than 30% of road fatalities are caused by fatigue, and some reports have suggested fatigue causes more incidents than alcohol.

“Being drowsy significantly increases the risk of an accident on the road and in the workplace and impairs an operator’s ability to respond quickly and safely if a dangerous situation arises,” Dr Tucker said.

“Our products therefore are delivering multiple benefits to company owners, managers and operators and we can’t wait to see further developments in this important area of risk management and incident prevention.”

The full research paper will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine.

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