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  • Final Report Summary - I-VITAL (Smart Vital Signs and Accident Monitoring System for Motorcyclists Embedded in Helmets and Garments for eCall Adaptive Emergency Assistance and Health Analysis Monitoring)
FP7

I-VITAL Report Summary

Project ID: 605427
Funded under: FP7-SME
Country: Spain

Final Report Summary - I-VITAL (Smart Vital Signs and Accident Monitoring System for Motorcyclists Embedded in Helmets and Garments for eCall Adaptive Emergency Assistance and Health Analysis Monitoring)

Executive Summary:
Motorcyclists are less protected and consequently more vulnerable to severe injuries that require fast assistance than users of other vehicles. Furthermore, they still account for 18% of the total number of road accident fatalities. The i-VITAL consortium partners joined to develop a new system with the clear aim to improve the safety of motorcyclists, and to reduce the assistance time and effectiveness of emergency services in the event of a crash. This consortium is made up of three manufacturing SMEs: NZI Helmets (motorcycle helmet), Lookwell (motorcycle garment), and CAP (polymers); and three research institutions: CETEM (coordinator and helmet system), Fraunhofer (garment system and smartphone app) and TECOS (helmet energy harvesting).

The i-VITAL project has created a novel vital sign monitoring and accident detection system that can be seamlessly integrated into helmets and garments. It combines embedded hardware with a smartphone app. The system is capable of providing with accurate accident information (e.g. location, severity) and direct communication to emergency services in compliance with the eCall standard.

The system includes energy harvesting capabilities into helmets and garments in order to maximize the alert time of the system. i-VITAL has developed techniques that continuously analyse vital data in real-time and warn the rider if thresholds have been reached in order to prevent from possible accidents or health hazards.

The project has successfully achieved the overall project objective to develop an electronic active safety system, which has been seamlessly integrated into a motorcycle helmet and garment. It has the following main features:
• Real-time health monitoring through biosignal data acquisition in two hardware modules optimised for integration in helmet and garment, including: HR (Heart Rate) and HRV (Heart Rate Variability), head/body temperature, humidity, in-garment respiration rate and in-helmet consciousness detection.
• Real-time data processing capabilities for accident detection
• Bluetooth interface to smartphone and automatic call generation
• eCall complaint system that provides vital data to emergency services
• Vital data logging for post analysis by the user
• An app receives sensor data from helmet and garment through BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) links, and provides visualization and analysis to the user.
• Automatic warnings to driver if adaptive vital data limits are exceeded. Especially thresholds for bradycardia and tachycardia.
• Energy Harvesting units for helmet (wind) and garment (solar) provides extended battery life

The project results have been validated through pilot testing in two sites located in Germany and Spain, which included users but also experts from relevant fields such as medical, engineering and motorcycling industry. Both experts and users greatly appreciate the safety features of the i-VITAL system, alongside its high potential for saving lives through faster and more efficient emergency assistance. The energy harvesting system was highlighted as a very compelling feature that would increase the user confidence in the system by providing non-stop operation. The gathered feedback in the pilots has been mostly positive with some valuable recommendations for improvement that will be considered for future product development.

Besides the above-mentioned features, the following scientific challenges have been addressed:
• Electrical heart monitoring in the helmet has been fully investigated and relevant results have been published in an international scientific conference. However, a LED-based solution has proven to provide more robust results and was chosen in the final implementation.
• Research and development of a new eye blinking detection circuitry for consciousness determination in the helmet has been carried out.
• Critical situation detection algorithms from biosignals and impact information have been developed. Algorithms for low-power calculations of heart rate, breath rate, breath depth, and computation of variability of these parameters have been implemented. More detailed information on the driver’s state, like concentration and fatigue, is further derived from the previous primary parameters with additional algorithms.

Project Context and Objectives:
Motorcyclists are not enclosed in a protective construction like passengers in a car, nor are they protected by the on-board safety facilities that today’s cars provide. Consequently, they are more vulnerable to severe injuries that require fast assistance than users of other vehicles. The i-VITAL consortium partners joined to develop a new system with the clear aim to improve the safety of motorcyclists, and to reduce the assistance time and effectiveness of emergency services in the event of a crash.

Reduction of fatalities in motorcycle and moped accidents is still an unaccomplished task, accounting for 18% of the total number of road accident fatalities. During the last few years, the number of motorcycle deaths has reduced in line with the reduction for the all modes of transport, but it has actually increased as a percentage of the total. The EU road safety action plan 2011-2012 (MEMO/10/343) aims at reducing the number of deaths on Europe’s roads by half in 2020.

Safety in passenger cars has always been widely researched, and a continuous stream of these developments hit the market as products, and rapidly become standard features of a growing pool of car models. However, the motorcycle industry has a much smaller size, and consequently investment in safety research is much lower and has produced much fewer results.

On top of that, the safety in motorcycles is much more challenging, since it has much more restrictive physical limitations such as space, weight or power requirements. One example is airbags, which have been extremely popular and widely used in cars for many years, but has not been successfully applied to motorbikes yet.

Finally, unlike other vehicles, motorbike safety is more fragmented and it is not limited to the vehicle itself, since it involves other elements such as protective clothing and helmets. This makes it more challenging to build complete safety solutions.

For all of the above, i-VITAL emerges as a quite unique proposition to address safety in motorbikes and address the EU challenge of fatality reduction in this neglected niche. Harnessing the expertise of several SMEs and research centres which acknowledge the importance of improving motorcyclists’ safety, i-VITAL’s principal goal is to improve eCall architecture for this demographic through recording and transmitting medical data. eCall is an active European initiative, which advocates the installation of wireless transceivers in vehicles to automatically contact the emergency services in the event of accidents. Units can also relay important information about the location and severity of collisions, which can help to inform their responses.

i-Vital’s own information rich eCall provision offers some distinct practical advantages specific to motorcyclists. Since i-Vital’s monitoring and communications technology is embedded within riders’ personal clothing, rather than their bikes, it can directly transmit details of their vital signs, enabling the emergency services to remotely assess their status. Additionally, i-Vital establishes a reassuringly direct audio link with accident responders via the motorcyclist’s helmet, which can be maintained even if a rider should become separated from their vehicle.

CETEM (a Spanish Research Centre) has acted as the project coordinator, while being also responsible for developing sensor and electronic apparatus to obtain the relevant bio-signals from the helmet. Two of Fraunhofer’s bodies have also participated in the project: the Institute for Integrated Circuits and the Institute for Industrial Engineering (IAO). The former has created electronics and sensors for the garment, whilst the IAO’s contribution focuses on the Human Machine Interface (HMI) and the smartphone app. This integral aspect of the project provides the mechanisms through which users interact with i-VITAL, and conceives the display configurations that show visible, audible or vibration information to them. Emergency calls result from a collision accident, though driver warnings can actively help to prevent them. Biosignal triggers that can engage i-Vital warnings also include too high or too low heart rate, low focus or high levels of stress, which can create additional risks on the road.

Two motorcycle industry SMEs with substantial experience of producing motorcycle equipment are also collaborating with the initiative. Lookwell, a motorcycle clothing firm from the Netherlands, has been involved in the field since 1974, and is assisting in the development of the garment. The company has engaged with several prior safety initiatives, including motorcycle airbag research. Helmet specialists NZI for more than 30 years is contributing their own unique expertise in R&D and manufacturing.

The reduction of system dependence on battery life was detected to be crucial, since this might become an issue for motorcyclists on long trips. Consequently, an wind-based energy harvesting system for the helmet was developed by Slovenian technology centre TECOS and CAP who is an expert SME in polymer. Similarly, the i-VITAL garment has been equipped with a commercial flexible solar cell.

The project has achieved the overall project objective to develop an electronic active safety system, which has been seamlessly integrated into a motorcycle helmet and garment. It has the following main features:
• Real-time health monitoring through biosignal data acquisition
• Real-time data processing capabilities for hazardous situation detection
• Bluetooth interface to smartphone and automatic call generation
• eCall complaint system
• Storing of vital signs data in cvs format for post analysis by the user
• Automatic warnings to driver when critical situations are detected
• Energy Harvesting to extend battery life

SCIENTIFIC OBJECTIVES
The project development has achieved the following scientific objectives:
- Electrical heart monitoring in the helmet has been fully investigated and relevant results have been published. However, due to practical difficulties under riding conditions, a LED-based solution has been developed, which provides more robust results.
• Research and development of a new eye blinking detection circuitry for consciousness determination has been carried out.
• Critical situation detection algorithms from biosignals and impact information have been developed. Algorithms for calculations of heart rate, breath rate, breath depth, and computation of variability of these parameters have been implemented. Implementation was done in a way to allow use in low power systems with limited resources (on board microcontroller). By additional algorithms, combining the processed secondary parameters, more detailed information on the driver’s state, like concentration and fatigue, are obtained.

TECHNOLOGICAL OBJECTIVES:
From a technological perspective i-VITAL has successfully accomplished the following main goals:
• Two different biosignal sensor modules optimised for integration in helmet and garment have been developed. They include the following features: HR (Heart Rate) and HRV (Heart Rate Variability), head/body temperature, humidity, and in-helmet consciousness/unconsciousness detection. Its external appearance, passive safety properties, comfort and overall product quality has been preserved.
• To identify the health conditions when to warn the user. i-VITAL will have to study what are the limits for a normal user and ride. If they are exceeded, some warnings will be issued to the user. Especially thresholds for bradycardia and tachycardia have been defined. A respective use warning will be given using auditive and vibration cues.
• An HMI and associated software for the smartphone have been developed. The app receives sensor data from helmet and garment through BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) links. A GUI (Graphical User Interface) provides visualization of the acquired data to the user. In the case of an accident, a communication link with cellular technology is established in order to send out eCall information and vital data.
• Two local processing units with BLE for implementation of the defined algorithms have been designed, optimised, implemented and integrated into helmet and garment prototypes.
• Two Energy Harvesting Units for the helmet (wind-based) and garment (solar-based) have been developed.

Project Results:
The high level results that the project has achieved are:
- Novel Helmet sensor acquisition subsystem
- New Garment sensor acquisition subsystem with solar cell package
- Accident detection and health algorithm signal processing i-VITAL application system
- Wind power generator unit for helmets

From a more scientific perspective (at a lower level of detail) these are some objectives that have been reached:
• Electrical heart monitoring in the helmet has been fully investigated and relevant results have been published. However, due to practical difficulties under riding conditions, a LED-based solution has been developed, which provides more robust results.
• Research and development of a new eye blinking detection circuitry for consciousness determination has been carried out.
• Critical situation detection algorithms from biosignals and impact information have been developed. Algorithms for calculations of heart rate, breath rate, breath depth, and computation of variability of these parameters have been implemented. Implementation was done in a way to allow use in low power systems with limited resources (on board microcontroller). By additional algorithms, combining the processed secondary parameters, more detailed information on the driver’s state, like concentration and fatigue, are obtained.

On the technological side of i-VITAL the following main goals have been accomplished:
• Two different biosignal sensor modules optimised for integration in helmet and garment have been developed. They include the following features: HR (Heart Rate) and HRV (Heart Rate Variability), head/body temperature, humidity, and in-helmet consciousness/unconsciousness detection. Its external appearance, passive safety properties, comfort and overall product quality has been preserved.
• To identify the health conditions when to warn the user. i-VITAL has developed methods to determine the limits for a normal user and ride. If they are exceeded, some warnings are issued to the user. Especially thresholds for bradycardia and tachycardia have been defined. A respective use warning is given through auditive and vibration cues.
• An HMI and associated software for the smartphone have been developed. The app receives sensor data from helmet and garment through BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) links. A GUI (Graphical User Interface) provides visualization of the acquired data to the user. In the case of an accident, a communication link with cellular technology is established in order to send out eCall information and vital data.
• Two local processing units with BLE for implementation of the defined algorithms have been designed, optimised, implemented and integrated into helmet and garment prototypes.
• Two Energy Harvesting Units for the helmet (wind-based) and garment (solar-based) have been developed.

Potential Impact:
As planned at the beginning of the project, the i-VITAL SME partners have received a novel vital sign monitoring technology and accident detection system for seamless integration into motorcycle helmets and garments. A helmet and garment have been designed to maximise the sensor accuracy and ease of integration of electronic devices.

An accident detection system based on low-cost accelerometers has been developed more. The final helmet prototypes include integrated headphones for audio calls, which will always allow the user to talk with the emergency services regardless of where and how the motorcycle is after the accident.

The vital and accident information that i-VITAL can generate has been integrated into an eCall compliant system. Even though eCall for motorbikes has not yet been defined, the i-VITAL solution meets existing eCall, and it should be fairly easy to modify it to accommodate future changes if a specific eCall for motorbikes is finally defined. The time to market will be much faster for the partner SMEs and they will have higher probabilities of product success than other competitors.

The electrical heart monitoring in the head area through EPIC sensors has been investigated, and some relevant results have been published. However, strong air movements and vibrations in the zone of measurement (around the neck) makes this solution hard to integrate in the helmet and impractical in reality. Finally, a LED-based solution with much fewer problems has been developed and integrated into the helmet.

i-VITAL has developed a viable wind-based energy harvesting system for helmets. Similarly, a selection of valid solar cell has been done for the garment. The partners consider this a key market advantage, since it will maximize the alert time of the system, and exceed other systems provided by competitors.

i-VITAL has developed techniques that continuously analyse vital data in real-time and warn the rider in order to prevent possible accidents or health hazards. Finally, in order to make it more attractive to buyers i-VITAL has implemented and validated special “joy of use” features, such as storing the trip data for later analysis and estimating the “level of joy”. These features will have been incorporated into the smartphone application specifically developed for i-VITAL.

Dissemination activities have been carried out in order to publish some scientific and technical results. Besides the R&D work that the RTDPs are performing, the SMEs have been contacting stakeholders in order to maximise the project reach and impact. The eCall standard is one of the main areas that the SMEs are focusing on by making sure the outcomes of i-VITAL can be useful to it while also benefiting from it. Stakeholders from eCall can provide useful feedback, and some of them even become customers of the i-VITAL technology.

The i-VITAL partners are confident that these results will contribute to motorcycle safety, and a reduction of fatalities and long-term injuries for Powered-Two-Wheelers (PTW). Ambulances and emergency teams will receive much more accurate information about the accident and the riders’ status, which will increase the rate of successful assistance outcomes. Besides medical treatment preparation, better diagnosis anticipation and right hospital selection, i-VITAL will also contribute to a reduction of ambulance-related accidents. Note that emergency services will receive valuable vital data from i-VITAL, and only take the risks of high-speed driving if really necessary.
The increment of motorcycle safety may also help support motorcycle sales and promote its use, since this means of transport is perceived to provide a low level of safety and high risk. Relatives and friends of motorcyclists can feel relieved when they are using i-VITAL, since they are tracked and important health or driving issue will be detected and reported to emergency services.

A future funding and investment plan has been defined, so that the SMEs have a clear vision of how the product and project results can be exploited and how they can reach the market successfully. Different market routes have been analysed and compared.

These results are expected to greatly impact the revenue base of the participant SMEs through multiple factors. First, an increase in the number of sold helmet/garment units is expected. Secondly, the revenue per unit sold is also expected to increase, since i-VITAL helmets and garments will contain a much higher added-value than regular ones. Moreover, the consortium will try to provide stand-alone i-VITAL monitoring units that can be incorporated to existing helmets and garments. If this is achieved, additional sales could be obtained by lowering the price barrier of the acquisition of i-VITAL products for existing helmet and garments owners.

An alternative revenue stream that is currently being considered is through licensing of the technology to third parties, such as other helmet or garment manufacturers. This option will also strengthen the European motorcycle industry by empowering other European firms to benefit from the i-VITAL results.

List of Websites:
www.i-vital.eu
Coordinator: Rafael Maestre
Affiliation: CETEM, www.cetem.es
Phone: +34-968 75 20 40
email: r.maestre@cetem.es

Reported by

ASOCIACION EMPRESARIAL DE INVESTIGACION CENTRO TECNOLOGICO DEL MUEBLEY LA MADERA DE LA REGION DE MURCIA
Spain
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