yet2 client is seeking novel solutions to assess and quantify cognitive performance impact due to fatigue, hypo/hyperoxia, surges of stress, and/or a sudden loss in blood flow.  Wearable sensor technologies which quantify physiological and biochemical markers of stress and/or fatigue and have the potential to operate in an aerospace environment, either currently or with additional development are especially of interest.

Background

Fatigue and stress are a pervasive problem during high-performance flight environments and multi-day operations.  Pilot fatigue may be due to consecutive missions, mental exertion, cognitive overload, and/or jetlag. Diminished cognitive performance may be a result of hypo/hyperoxia, fatigue, surges of stress, or a sudden loss in blood flow.  Continuously monitoring physical indicators of alertness is the first step in mitigating stress and fatigue related safety risks. However, many currently available solutions, such as wearables and cameras, are not suited for the flight environment due to the extreme conditions. Therefore, this organization is seeking new technologies that will enable them to monitor pilots for fatigue and/or stress during the rigors of aerospace flight.

Constraints

Components will:

  • Be able to operate under aerospace conditions: gravitational acceleration, vibration, ambient noise, potential electromagnetic interference, temperature and pressure extremes
  • Be robust against motion artifacts and sensor decoupling
  • Be free of electrode instabilities and impedance mismatch

Desired

  • Have the potential to meet Safe-to-Fly (StF) requirements
  • Have undergone electromagnetic compatibility testing (EMC) and electromagnetic interference (EMI) testing for Medical Device and/or Aerospace
  • Have electronic cyber resilience
  • Have near real-time data collection
  • Enough data accuracy to be able to diagnose cognitive impairment
  • Not be bulky, add significant weight to helmet, cause discomfort under a flight suit, or impair pilot movement.

Not require conductive gels, electrical or magnetic shielding, etc. or other “extra” components that reduce usability in the field

Possible Solution Areas

  • Devices which measure physiological metrics of stress such as EEG, EOG, EMG, ECG, SpO2, StO2, ScO2, blood pressure, respiration, core body temperature
  • Devices which measure biomarkers of stress such as cortisol, epinephrine, neuropeptides, O2, CO2, breath volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Other stress or fatigue detecting methodologies such as facial feature extraction, functional near-infrared spectroscopy, etc.
  • Other biophysiological metrics correlate with changes in cognition and provide a >80% solution would be considered
  • New material, sensors, prototyping, and manufacturing technologies that could be used to adapt terrestrial sensor technologies to the aerospace environment

Desired Outcome of the Solution

Different partnership/collaboration opportunities are available, e.g., looking for partners to make the technology, government funding for further development is a possibility.

Field of Use and Intended Applications

Fatigue and stress assessment of pilots.

Previously Attempted Solutions

  • Commonly used terrestrial technologies such as laser Doppler (LDF) flowmetry, photoplethysmography (PPG), and pulse oximetry (PO) exhibit sensor decoupling or degradation in an aerospace environment, primarily due to vibrations.
  • Camera based solutions such as facial tracking, eyelid tracking have not performed well due to sudden changes in light, frequent movement of pilot’s head and eyes.
  • Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), EOG, and EMG seem promising.