Pilotage service providers, Australian Reef Pilots (ARP) has embraced world-first brainwave technology in what they say is the pursuit of an ultimate objective of best practice maritime safety standards.
ARP is trialling the Australian-developed SmartCap system, a unique piece of headwear which monitors brain activity to indicate fatigue levels.
ARP CEO Simon Meyjes said SmartCap was another tool in the company’s array of sophisticated technological innovations to enhance ship, crew and environmental safety. “Our use of the SmartCap is a world-first approach to address the issue of fatigue at sea. It looks like a simple baseball cap but is fitted with sophisticated sensors in the lining,” Simon Meyjes added.
Sensors monitor brainwaves (electroencephalographic or EEG) activity to accurately calculate the wearer’s level of drowsiness, and the data is transmitted in real-time to a portable monitor or similar blue-tooth enabled device such as a mobile or cell phone. The wearer’s alertness is assessed on a 2 to 4 scale with an audible fatigue warning activated if the level reaches 3+ or higher. This notifies the wearer that a ‘micro sleep’ episode may occur.
“This is a self-monitoring system enabling the SmartCap wearer to accurately determine how they’re coping on-the-job, signalling when it is time to take appropriate steps to manage fatigue,” Meyjes explained.
The SmartCap was initially developed for mining and allied industries however ARP identified an opportunity to expand its use into a maritime environment. Now, ARP and University fatigue experts are developing a rigorous scientific study program which will utilise SmartCaps and Readibands (a watch that monitors wrist movements to determine quality of sleep) to undertake one of the most comprehensive maritime fatigue studies undertaken in Australia. The research will be the first time both SmartCap and Readibands have been used in parallel to provide data effectively measuring the ability to perform in waking hours (SmartCap), as well as the quality of sleep achieved (Readiband).
Australian Reef Pilots has four working pilot stations and a head office in Brisbane. It employs 44 marine pilots, owns or operates 11 boats and has access to six helicopters under lease agreements.