NASA SBIR 2003 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 03- II A1.01-7655
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Crew Systems Technologies for Improved Airspace Safety and Security
PROPOSAL TITLE: Crew Cerebral Oxygen Monitor

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Kurt J. Linden
One Patriots Park
Bedford, MA 01730-2396
U.S. Citizen or Legal Resident: Yes

This Phase II SBIR proposal is aimed at developing a non-invasive, optical method for monitoring crew member state of awareness in operational environments. All active devices used in this monitoring system will consist of commercially available components. Continuous monitoring of the mental state of personnel engaged in critical activities could provide a means of protection against human performance lapses resulting from unforeseen circumstances. If a deterioration of the state of awareness of an individual can be detected before that individual's performance is affected, serious accidents or lapses in operator performance could be avoided. A computer-controlled four-wavelength breadboard cerebral oxygen monitor was designed, fabricated, and demonstrated during Phase I. Using phantoms with controlled blood-oxygenation levels, high sensitivity and motion artifact rejection by proper algorithm use was demonstrated. Based on these successful Phase I results, Phase II will miniaturize the system size to a wearable format, and optimize the system performance. The new cerebral oxygen monitor performance will be evaluated, and more refined algorithms to eliminate motion artifacts will be developed. A portable, prototype version of this crew cerebral oxygen monitor will be designed, fabricated, evaluated, and delivered to NASA at the completion of the program.

The benefits of the proposed technology are expected to be of importance to the government, industry, transportation and medical sectors of the economy. For example, transportation crew members are often subject to stress, increasing the possibility of operator mistakes or oversight. It is important to monitor crew state of awareness so that accidents or lapses in operator performance can be avoided. The proposed crew cerebral oxygen monitor could be used by truck drivers, airline pilots, train operators, ship captains and respective crew members. Similar applications exist in other public and private sector industries where staff performance is critical.

NASA applications specifically revolve around real-time, non-invasive monitoring of crew performance and state of mental awareness. This is of major importance to mission safety and performance. Brain activity measurements, as determined by direct measurement of cerebral blood oxygenation, are expected to directly monitor crew health, stress level, state of duress, and general performance. The proposed crew cerebral oxygen monitor holds the potential for providing a completely non-invasive, optical method for achieving reliable, low-cost, monitoring of crew health, providing data that supplements current methods of obtaining related crew health data.