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What’s behind the Readiband? How we measure and predict fatigue

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The Readiband

When we talk about our technology, you’ll hear us say that Readiband can measure both sleep and fatigue.

The sleep analysis is usually easier to understand – Quite simply, Readiband provides really accurate insight into how your team sleeps. Things like how well they sleep after games, how long they sleep on average, and what time they fall asleep when traveling to a different time zone.

The fatigue analysis is where Fatigue Science really makes its name. Measuring fatigue is not as simple as asking someone how tired they feel today, and predicting fatigue is not as simple as asking someone how tired they’ll be two weeks from now. Scientists identify fatigue by measuring an individual’s sustained attention and reaction time. To do this, they use a psychomotor vigilance task (or PVT) test. A PVT is a small electronic box with buttons and lights – When a light flashes, the individual must push a button, the faster they push the button, the faster their reaction time measurement and the higher the PVT score. Sounds simple enough, but PVT tests are impractical to use in the real world, and can only provide a fatigue measurement for the exact moment in time that the test is taken.  The Readiband, however, provides a continuous measurement of fatigue based on the sleep data it collects and something called the SAFTE (Sleep, Activity, Fatigue, Task and Effectiveness) model, which predicts the wearer’s PVT score.

What is SAFTE?

Federal Aviation Administration - SAFTE Validation StudyOver twenty years ago, the US Army started to invest in research to understand how long periods of wakefulness during critical operations were affecting their soldiers ability to react quickly and make effective, split-second decisions. From this research, a biomathematical model called SAFTE was developed. The SAFTE model is an algorithm, which processes information about sleep history and time of day, to predict PVT test scores. The model was built into a software used in schedule planning, to both understand and limit the dangerous effects of fatigue in military operations.

The ability of the SAFTE model to accurately predict PVT scores and therefore, predict performance and fatigue, was proven through a number of studies including those conducted by the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration. This means the SAFTE model is scientifically proven to provide accurate measurements and predictions of reaction time for your athletes without the need to coordinate PVT or other timed tests.

The SAFTE model is licensed exclusively by Fatigue Science for use in the Readiband. By using Readiband to monitor your athletes’ sleep quality, you can harness the power of 20 years of military fatigue research and development to understand how that sleep affects their athletic performance and reaction time.

For deeper reading, please refer to the following papers:

Comparison of Mathematical Model Predictions to Experimental Data of Fatigue and Performance
Journal of Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine (2004)

Fatigue Models for Applied Research in Warfighting
Journal of Aviation, Space and Environmental Medicine (2004)

Schedule variability linked to fatigue and human factors incidents

Working-Schedule

Schedule variability linked to fatigue and human factors incidents in new US Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Association study.

In April 2014, the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Association (FRA) released a new report which examines a link between work shift start time variability and an increased risk of human factors accidents.

Their research concluded that in fact, the greater the inconsistency in the time of day works shifts are scheduled to start, the greater the level of worker fatigue and associated accident risk.

To assist in reaching these conclusions, Fatigue Science’s Fatigue Avoidance Scheduling Tool (FAST) was used to measure the level of fatigue in various work schedule scenarios. The FRA researchers used a FAST score below 90 [1] to determine if fatigue was present, and then measured the amount of time workers spent below that criterion during their working hours.

Where schedules (during which an accident had occurred) exhibited a high rate of start time variability, FAST demonstrated the workers were spending as much as 50-60% of their time below the fatigue score criterion that was set for this study.

The report concludes:

Fatigue, as measured by the FAST score, was also shown to be a function of start time variability. While it was previously demonstrated that fatigue was a general function of sleep and work schedules (Raslear et al., 2011), this report extends that finding to specify start time variability as a critical aspect of work schedules when considering fatigue and the probability of an accident.

Key takeaways:

  • FAST technology is trusted by the US Department of Transportation, Federal Railroad Administration as a tool for accurately predicting fatigue and levels of fatigue in their work schedules
  • Fatigue is not only a factor for night shift or rotating shift workers
  • Day shift workers can be subject to increased levels of fatigue if their work shift start times are inconsistent.
  • Evidence-based decisions can be made that effectively reduce fatigue without adversely affecting operations.

1. The Fatigue Avoidance Scheduling Tool (FAST) uses scientifically-valid modelling algorithms to measure potential fatigue in work schedules – retrospectively for incident analysis, or in future schedules to optimize planning. FAST identifies that a score of 90 is associated with a 10% reduction in reaction time and 1.5x increased likelihood of a long lapse (or microsleep) – these associated performance changes increase as the FAST score for a schedule roster or worker lowers.

Startup Canada: Top 100 startups features Fatigue Science

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Fatigue Science has been featured in Startup Canada’s list of 1000 startups along side some of the top start ups from the creative, education and technology industries.

For Fatigue Science the Startup Canada piece was an opportunity to talk about the story behind the development of the most validated fatigue measurement technology available in the world – the Readiband.

In the article, Pat Byrne Fatigue Science’s VP and founder, talks about the two years he spent traveling all over North America to speak with researchers, sleep labs, universities and members of the military in order to understand what technology was available to measure sleep and fatigue. Byrne then realized that he could use the existing technology to create an entirely new platform to measure sleep and fatigue in the workplace – that was when the Readiband was born.

Byrne also gives his advice for other startups in the article saying that:

My number one piece of advice as an entrepreneur and startup founder is to be passionate about what it is you are trying to accomplish with your business. Work hard and learn as much as you can from people you connect with as your business grows.

Why the answer to reducing truck driver fatigue is with evidence based data

 

On July 1, 2013 the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) new federal regulations designed to reduce truck driver fatigue took effect. The new federal regulations see an 11-hour limit on truckers’ driving day and a 34-hour rest period each week that would require drivers to be off two consecutive nights.

Driver fatigue is a serious problem in North America, with studies showing that 30 percent of fatal commercial truck crashes are fatigue related.

The DOT estimates that the rule will help prevent 1,400 truck crashes, 560 injuries and 19 deaths per year, while affecting only the less than 15 percent of truckers who drive the most hours.

In a profession that has more on-the-job deaths than any other in the U.S., why does the transportation industry still not get it?

Instead of being worried about reducing driver fatigue from our roads, it seems as though the transportation industry is more worried about loss of productivity and a loss of money.

Earlier this month, the American Trucking Association appealed the regulations arguing that longer rest breaks and reworked freight networks may reduce productivity by 3 percent, translating into $18 billion in additional costs. The appeal was quickly dismissed.

But it’s not just the association with this view in mind, in an interview with commercial truck drivers, Ben Kamisar found that in situations where shipping delays create unexpected downtime, this can potentially force them into restarts they’d rather not take so they flip their shifts to avoid that scenario. Because for truck drivers “when the wheels aren’t turning, you aren’t earning”.

The only way to reduce driver fatigue is to use evidence based technology to optimize alertness

The assumptions behind U.S. Department of Transportation’s new regulations are that the longer drivers are behind the wheel the greater their risk of having an accident and by giving drivers more time off they will get more rest. However, with drivers finding it acceptable to switch shifts to meet the demands of shipping, we are still going to be a long way from reducing driver fatigue from our roads.

People can be mentally fatigued and be at a greatly increased accident risk, yet not even feel fatigued.  Therefore, drivers will not realize they are fatigued until it is too late. This is why fatigue is such an insidious hazard.

New research published in 2013 by the Australian National Truck Accident Research Centre (ANTARC) studied all 461 truck accidents from 2011 in Australia and concluded that 68% of all fatigue related incidents occurred within 250 km and 85% of the fatigue related incidents occurred within 500 km of the beginning of their journey, not the end. ANTARC’s conclusion was that drivers were not getting the sleep they needed on their off days and came to work fatigued and unfit for duty.

Further, a study by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)  found that the very nature of 24-hr operational environments superimposed against human circadian physiology all but guarantees the systematic production of fatigue. As such, valid and reliable methods of predicting compromised performance capacity could be valuable as a means of preventing and mitigating fatigue-induced safety risks in applied settings.

Just like the transportation industry can track the amount of hours and miles a driver does, by using our  validated fatigue management solutions (Readiband and FAST) the industry could roster drivers to ensure they’re getting enough rest in-between shifts and be able to track the actual sleep of drivers get to ensure they are not getting behind the wheel fatigued.

Scientifically validated fatigue management solutions for the transportation industry

Our scientifically validated technology has provided companies in the transport industry with the data to understand how fatigue may be affecting the safety of their on-the-road employees and helping transportation agencies make decisions based on objective data.

By using Readiband and FAST the transportation industry can:

  • Give drivers the opportunity to visualize their real-time effectiveness scores directly on the Readiband
  • Collect sleep data from drivers using the Readiband
  • Easily visualize and quantify drivers and areas of increased fatigue risk with online reports from the Readiband data
  • Create rosters that optimize employee alertness using FAST
  • Identify specific rosters that will contribute to high levels of fatigue using FAST

Our technology enabled Australian transport company, Queensland Rail, to reduce fatigue risk by 39%

Queensland Rail used Readiband to assess employee fatigue levels and determine times of increased accident risk in train control centres. As a result of the strategies implemented from the Readiband findings, one train control centre increased employee sleep by a full hour, which translated to a 39% reduction in fatigue risk.

Former English soccer coach suggests fatigue could be reason for lack of success in international tournaments

International soccer fans are already counting down to the world’s most watched sporting event; FIFA’s 2014 World Cup. The four-year build up to the tournament is huge, and failure to perform can lead to great disappointment for coaches, players, sponsors and fans. Players will train hard and play hard, but will that be enough? Former England national coach, Fabio Capello, recently spoke with FIFA.com about the team’s lack of success on the international stage. In the interview, he suggested that English soccer players were simply tired:

“…They’re the least fresh of any of the competing national sides, because their league doesn’t have a break.” He says, continuing to add: “It’s like when you’re driving a car: if you stop halfway to put fuel in then you’ll definitely get where you want to go, but if you don’t then there’s always the chance you’ll be running on empty before you reach your goal.”

A recent article on Sportpulse.net cites the interview, supporting Capello’s claim by adding:

“In the past, top Premier League managers such as Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger have spoken about the need for a winter break. They believe that the lack of a break hampers English teams in the latter stages of the Champions League, as well as for international tournaments.”

The writer goes on to suggest that “…perhaps England need to do away with their packed winter schedule of games and find space for a winter break. Otherwise, as Capello says, they will always find themselves handicapped heading into a tournament.”

But what if a ‘winter break’ isn’t a feasible solution for England’s players? Better analysis and a look at their scheduling could provide a real solution to optimizing the team’s performance at tournament time. Fatigue Science’s Readiband and FAST (fatigue avoidance scheduling tool) is the only scientifically validated technology to do just that.

National soccer programs, olympic committees, the national hockey league, the national football league and Australian football league are already using Fatigue Science’s Readibands and FAST to reduce fatigue and improve player performance – maybe the English national soccer team should too?

Press release: Fatigue Science now the global leader in fatigue management technology

Vancouver, BC – August 2, 2013 – Fatigue Science, a fatigue management technology company based in Vancouver, now offers the most comprehensive, valid and scientifically accurate fatigue management technology in the world. Under orders from the US Congress, the US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA), multi-year study, validated Fatigue Science’s Readiband and Fatigue Avoidance Scheduling Tool (FAST).

Pat Byrne, internationally recognized sleep and fatigue expert and founder of Fatigue Science says “we are thrilled that our technology continues to receive further validation, in addition to the independent validations by US Department of Transportation, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and the Kettering Sleep Disorder Centre.”

“We are proud to offer our clients the most accurate fatigue management technology in the world that allows them to measure, manage and mitigate their workplace fatigue” said Byrne.

The latest FAA study validates the SAFTE model used in Fatigue Science’s Readiband and Fatigue Avoidance Scheduling Tool (FAST). The FAA said, “the present study utilized actual sleep/wake/work data from a broadly representative sample of professional cabin crew to demonstrate clear relationships between performance effectiveness predicted by the SAFTE model and objective performance outcomes in the field.”  The FAA study involved over 10,000 field reaction tests and compared them to cabin crew sleep patterns.

Fatigue Science’s technology is used by research agencies, mining companies, transportation companies, governments, military organizations and professional sports teams globally. Including organizations such as Harvard Medical School, Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Rio Tinto, Colombian Air Force and the Vancouver Canucks of the National Hockey League.

Globally, fatigue is a major contributor to workplace accidents in all 24/7 operations and is a significant issue in professional sports.  “We are proud our technology allows companies to easily measure the sleep, fatigue and accident risk of employees to prevent fatigue related accidents while respecting the privacy of the employee” said Byrne.

Fatigue Science’s FAST software received further validation when it was used by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada in a retrospective analysis to identify fatigue in an air traffic controller as a contributing factor in a near-miss incident at Vancouver Airport.

Download a PDF version of the press release