Researchers Design Wearable Sensors That Can Detect Employee Fatigue

Scientists have been designing devices that detect a worker’s alertness. The aim of this? To monitor for fatigue. Fatigue in a work setting can cause injuries or accidents and sometimes even loss of lives. Various industrial disasters, such as the Chernobyl nuclear accident, have been linked to worker fatigue.

These wearable devices measures the breathing rate of their users as well as their muscle contractions, sweating and heart rate. The research, which was reported in this month’s issue of  “IEEE Sensors Journal,” has a team of researchers from Italy explain how the innovative device works, adding that the individuals’ breathing frequency is not only used to monitor fatigue but can also help determine if a person is in a condition that might overwhelm their body, such as discomfort, pain, hypoxia, excessive heat or cold.

Fatigue is an important issue that should be addressed, given that thousands of work-related accidents occur daily across the globe, influencing the activities of different sectors of the economy. To help improve the safety and performance of workers while also averting work-related accidents, fatigue needs to be monitored.

The sensor device that was developed by the researchers is made up of flexible elastic bands made from fiber optic technology in combination with a soft silicon matrix, which adjusts to an individual’s chest as they breathe. As an individual wearing the sensor exhales, the diaphragm expands, which deflates the stomach, thus compressing the sensor. Conversely, during inhalation the stomach distends, and the diaphragm of the individual constricts, which strains the sensor.

Ten volunteers had the sensors tested on them as they carried out different activities and movements. The actions ranged from lifting articles off the ground to standing and sitting. The researchers’ findings suggest that the sensors are proficient in yielding measurements akin to that of a flow meter and also evaluating the respiratory frequency of an individual.

The sensors’ design has various strengths, including the silicon matrix, which was sculpted in a dumbbell form, allowing the elastic band’s sensor feature to adhere better. The downside is that the device’s system must be attached to a large instrument in order for the fiber optic signals to be processed.

The good news is that researchers are currently looking into various ways that these useful devices can be made cheaper as well as smaller. This would enable the device to be used in a real-world setting.

Lots of biomedical companies invest in finding remedies to a variety of health conditions. Processa Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: PCSA) is a notable one. Among other things, the company acquires drugs for which clinical proof of efficacy exists and then completes the clinical trial process in order to attain regulatory approval for the tested drug.

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