San Diego, CA (PRWEB) May 19, 2017
Quantum Applied Science & Research (QUASAR), Inc., a San Diego-based high-tech company, has just been awarded a research contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a wearable detector of extreme mental stress, referred to as acute cognitive strain (ACS).
Under this funding, QUASAR will collaborate with the Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition (IHMC) to develop and test a wearable and comfortable Nonintrusive Detector of Acute Cognitive Strain (DACS) for U.S. warfighters. The $150K award is the first of two planned phases of a Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) research effort whose total funding could exceed $1M. In October 2016, QUASAR and IHMC also received a $2M award from the U.S. Air Force to monitor cognitive effort, stress, and fatigue.
ACS is the psychological state that results from excessively high mental demands. It can cause loss of productivity, situational awareness, and self-control, in addition to breakdowns in team cooperation. This can worsen job performance and satisfaction, and in certain environments lead to team failure and catastrophic consequences.
“In today’s world, almost everyone is stressed out. ACS is the extreme end of the stress spectrum, when tempers are lost and grown-ups melt down into tantrums,” explained Dr. Walid Soussou, CEO of QUASAR, who is leading this project along with Dr. Anil Raj from IHMC.
Many consumer-grade wearable stress monitors have recently started appearing on the market, like Thync, Wellbe, or Spire, and there are even apps for the Apple Watch. QUASAR and IHMC aim to develop a military-grade wearable DACS sensor suite to measure ACS-related physiological changes, including increased blood pressure, heart rate, sweatiness, muscle and voice tension, and shortness of breath. These measurements would be used to detect ACS and alert management that the operator needs assistance, or fed back into the system itself so it could take appropriate action to address the situation.
For both military and non-military environments, the detection of ACS is important to rapidly mitigate stressful situations, especially in mission- or safety-critical environments such as command center operation, emergency response teams, air traffic control, and plant management. The detection of ACS is also important for other stressful professional environments, including high-stakes trading in the financial sector, emergency medical staff, or even competitive sports. Therefore, wearable DACS technology could be extended to a range of non-military applications, including anger management and specialized peak-performance training methods for maintaining athletic performance under high-stress situations.
QUASAR, Inc. (http://www.quasarusa.com) was founded in 1998. The company is known for high-fidelity dry sensors for noninvasive physiological monitoring. QUASAR’s focus is the creation of high-performance systems for measurement of electroencephalogram (EEG) and electrocardiogram (ECG) signals. QUASAR also develops specialized algorithms to interpret these signals for real-world applications such as optimizing education programs and enhancing athletic performance.
IHMC is a non-profit research institute of the Florida University System and is affiliated with several Florida universities. Researchers at IHMC pioneer technologies aimed at leveraging and extending human capabilities to deliver cognitive, physical, or perceptual augmentative solutions. IHMC collaborates extensively with industry and government to develop science and technology that can be enabling with respect to society’s broader goals of human life enhancement.