Fatigue can have dangerous consequences. For many of us, coffee, sugar, exercise, and stretching come in handy to help us stay alert, productive, and focused. If I fall asleep at my desk, my productivity will lag. For anyone operating machinery, driving, piloting, or flying, however, succumbing to fatigue can mean accidents that can lead to damage, injury, and even death.

SmartCap Tech’s SmartCap, available in baseball cap, hat, beanie, headband, and other headwear versions, was developed to monitor and predictably alert wearers of declining alertness. The base technology in SmartCap utilizes sensors in the headwear to detect electrical brain activity. The data is captured and processed on a removable card connected to the cap, hat, or headband and then sent via Bluetooth to a small external display. According to SmartCap Tech, the SmartCap system has been evaluated by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC), the Austin Health Institute of Breathing and Sleep (IBAS), and the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Chile.

There are three components to the SmartCap system: headwear; processor card; and display. The headwear, whether it’s a ball cap or other design, has a dock with a connector for a processor card. The processor card translates EEG data from the hat’s sensors into fatigue levels via algorithms. The SmartCap display provides a real-time fatigue level reading and can also trigger visual and audio alarms if specified fatigue levels are reached. The SmartCap processor card connects to the display via Bluetooth and the display can store fatigue data for later reference. The SmartCap display can also use cellphone or WiFi to enable real-time monitoring by a central facility.

SmartCap’s was originally developed for the mining industry but has spread wider to other industries, worksites, occupations,  and professions where alertness and fatigue monitoring are crucial.