Tech

Managing Transportation Worker Fatigue with Wearables

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By Garmin

Technology is rapidly changing the transportation industry. Wearable devices, with their capability to provide objective, continuous monitoring, are an important tool that can revolutionise this market as part of solutions aimed at increasing safety and productivity for transport workers.

Reforms to the Chain of Responsibility have increased the importance of safety management systems.  Wearables can play a key role in these systems by improving the flow of information, enabling real-time communication between supervisors and driver without distractions. Wearables can potentially detect and monitor fatigue, or even enable fleet managers to remotely monitor driver health data such as heart rate and stress.  While fatigue monitoring systems are still in the early stages of development compared to camera-based systems, they promise a suite of advanced features not possible today.

How can wearables monitor fatigue? 

Most wearables in the market today analyse motion and heart rate to detect sleep and classify sleep stages. By analysing sleep patterns, along with information such as steps and fitness activity, a fatigue-monitoring system can provide individualized energy level or alertness forecasts for workers. Real-time analysis of heart rate data can supplement these forecasts, providing the possibility to alert or intervene before an accident occurs.

Other methods include:

Measuring driver head motion without using a camera. A headset detects if the driver is looking forward through the windshield or looking up, down or sideways. The device sends an alert and beeps if it detects the driver has been looking in a single direction for longer than usual.

Drowsiness detection glasses that track blink rates and how far eyelids open after closing. That data is translated into a number on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being “very drowsy.” Any change outside the norm triggers an alarm on a smartphone enabled with Bluetooth technology or a wrist device that alerts the driver their attention is waning.

Smart caps enabled with Bluetooth technology that measure brain wave activity through a mini-electroencephalogram. The brain waves indicate the driver’s ability to resist sleep and can detect the onset of micro-sleeps, or brief episodes of nodding off. A connected smartphone app receives this information and provides visual/audible alerts to warn the drivers they’re getting tired. The app also relays information to fleet managers who can access real-time data from the caps and use it to adjust shift schedules or encourage breaks.

Biometric T-shirts with embedded sensors that monitor various biometrics including heart rate, breathing rate and heart rate variability – all indicators of stress and fatigue. Like smart caps, the analytics can be accessed through a smartphone app to track activity and view real-time data.

The next generation of fatigue systems will analyse advanced metrics such as skin temperature, sweat, glucose, lactate, sodium and potassium levels. Despite all the technology, there is no denying that a well-rested and alert driver is a safer, more productive one. Simply being aware of worker fatigue can help manage the problem of on-the-job tiredness and ensure that workers get home safely.

The Study Behind Advanced Sleep

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By Garmin

Garmin recently announced Advanced Sleep Monitoring in Garmin Connect, an enhanced capability to more accurately identify sleep stages based on analysis of photoplethysmography (PPG) and actigraphy (ACT) data collected by Garmin wearables featuring optical heart rate. The sleep stage identification algorithm was developed against truth data generated by a clinical device and is the result of a sleep study conducted under the supervision of Dr. Suzanne Stevens, Director of the University of Kansas Medical Center Sleep Medicine Clinic with certifications by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the American Board of Sleep Medicine.

The sleep study cohort consisted of 67 participants (47 = M, age 35.6 ± 8.3; 20 = F, age 35.9 ± 10.5). Only sleepers using CPAP were excluded from the study; otherwise, all participants identified as having no known sleep-related conditions. Purposefully designed for at-home use, participants used a clinical device capable of assessing sleep architecture in a relaxed environment outside of a traditional sleep lab. The device generated EEG, heart rate, EOG and EMG channels, as well as provided the sleep stage classifications. Respiratory effort and airflow were not measured because these measurements are not required for sleep stage identification.

The truth data was scored by a sleep technician certified by the Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists operating under the direct supervision of Dr. Stevens. In addition to the clinical device, participants wore a Garmin wearable on both wrists during the study. Wide bandwidth PPG and ACT data were logged on the devices and post-processed for algorithm development. The clinical device and wearables were time-synchronized, facilitating cross-device alignment of signals and reduction of errors during data analysis.

Garmin intends to publish a paper in a peer-reviewed sleep journal and will publish results based on the production system used by the Advanced Sleep Monitoring in Garmin Connect. Compared to a “leave one out” approach where a machine-learning classifier has the benefit of being trained repeatedly on high-resolution data that would be impractical to gather from users, the Garmin results will be based on a more challenging, real-world scenario in which PPG and ACT data resolution is reduced to improve transmission times with reliance on post-processing by a cloud-based analytics engine to generate the sleep stage classifications.

The Benefits of a Wellness Programs

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By Garmin Health

The trend of incorporating wearables in wellness initiatives continues to experience rapid growth as the acceptance of the technology and its effect on well-being increases. More than twice as many employees own an activity tracker today than in 2016 (27% vs. 13%) and having health data on the wrist places an emphasis on individual well-being. Physical activity and exercise were the top issues driving wellness priorities in a 2018 global study of workforce well-being strategies. Combining a wearable device with personalized step goals and daily feedback has been shown to increase activity levels over the short and long term.

The evidence supporting exercise as medicine is overwhelming. The most effective way to prevent disease and improve biometric scores is by adding an effective physical activity initiative to a wellness program. Exercise has a domino effect that not only decreases blood pressure, but also cholesterol, glucose measurement and more. A JAMA article showed the use of wearables is associated with significant increases in physical activity and significant decreases in body mass index and blood pressure.

Employee health has a heavy influence on retention rates and productivity and can fuel business success. A 2016 Gallup poll showed that investing in employee well-being has positive effects on reducing medical/prescription costs, absenteeism and disability claims. As health care costs continue to climb, there is more of a focus on investing in measures to reduce the need for care. Wearables represent an opportunity to impact future health care.

Wellness can have a positive impact on a company’s bottom line and contributes to a high-performance culture. A healthy workforce results in happier employees, which impacts business performance.  The value of investing in well-being has never been more clear. Garmin Health provides enterprise solutions that leverage Garmin wearables and the high-quality sensor data they produce for use in the fitness, corporate wellness, population health and patient monitoring markets. Contact us today to find out more.