Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BrainWorkloadReader (Generation of a business plan for the production of a compact and reliable device able to measure in real-time the cerebral workload state of high responsibility operators in the transport domain)
Reporting period: 2015-01-01 to 2015-05-31
The specific objective of the overall innovation project is to develop and commercialize a device able to measure in real time the cognitive workload of an operator working in the context of the transport domain. Such a device called BrainWorkloadReader (BWR) will be derived from an already existing prototype tested by the university spin-off BrainSigns over the last three years in relevant industrial environments (e.g. airlines companies, ATCOs associations) in real operative conditions.
Outcome of innovation process.
The outcome of this innovation project will be the integration of the BWR device in the transport field in:
1) static or full motion simulators of a transport systems (airplanes, helicopter, train, etc.) to measure the degree of cerebral workload during the training of an operator or a pilot;
2) the standard working environment of a transport operator (ATCos, pilots, control room for traffic, etc etc) in order to improve the safety of his/her operations.
Task 1.1 User involvement.
Since January 2015 BrainSigns has carried out a series of colloquia and in-depth interviews with eminent personalities as well as important keyplayers in the aeronautic domain.
Many of them have been contacted during professional and scientific meetings in the transport domain as well in ad-hoc meetings. A list of these contacts follows:
Transport and avionics
1) Thales, Italy
2) Alenia Aermacchi, Finmeccanica, Italy
3) Augusta Westland, United Kingdom,
4) Piaggio Aerospace, Italy
Air Traffic Control Schools
5) ENAC, Tolosa, France,
6) ENAV, Academy Forly, Italy,
7) NATS, United Kingdom,
Aerospace and aeronautic space centers
8) the Aeronautic and Aerospace University of Zheijang, China,
9) the Centre for the Civil Aviation, Tjianin, and Chengdu, China
10) the Centro Italiano di Ricerca Aerospaziale (CIRA), Italy
Airplanes and Helicopters Simulators
11) the CAE simulator company, Canada
Experienced instructors of airlines and Air Traffic Controllers schools
12) various experienced airlines pilot trainers (Alitalia and Easyjet)
13) experienced trainer for air traffic controllers in Italy and France
Experts in HR area in aeronautic sector
Task 1.2 Innovation Strategy Development.
After having concluded such rounds of interviews with all these experts in the aeronautic sectors, it appeared clear that there is a general strong interest for the methodology at the base of BWR in the area of Human Resource (HR) in aeronautics.
Task 1.3 Market study.
Because of the ATCO’s interest, there are possibilities of enlarging the market initially considered for the BWR device. In particular, a couple of positive markets whose size is interesting for the use of BWR have been determined as the flight schools and the schools of Air Traffic Controllers (ATCos).
Task 1.4 Risk assessment.
A series of structured interviews have been performed by BrainSigns to relevant actors in the aeronautic domain as indicated in the Task Users Involvement. From these interviews a series of risks connected to the evaluation and acceptance of the BWR device have been identified. Appropriate countermeasures have been derived to cope with these risks for the device to be developed.
Task 1.5 Production costs evaluation
The market opportunities we have shown are really interesting but progressive development activities in the BWR production are necessary and also in developing sales and support units. BWR will firstly require a substantial investment to develop the device and tune the system in the 3 different markets that have been considered whilst carrying out site testing. Following this production systems and collaborations will have to be put in place including the development of sales and support teams. For the development of the device in a market ready tested version 2 years of time and ca. 800.000 Euros is estimated as being necessary.
Task 1.6 Intellectual Property (IP) management.
As recommended, the scenario in IP has been investigated in two directions: the first was relative to the freedom to operate for the realization of the BWR device and the second was relative to the protection of the intellectual property of it. Both actions have been successfully developed and two patents from BrainSigns related to the core principles of the BWR device have been filed to the proper offices to protect the IP of the project.
Task 1.7 Partners search and consolidation of existing partnership
After the experts interviews, as described above, it became clear that BrainSigns needs to search for the help of other expertise as partners or suppliers in order to develop the whole project. The required partnership for the testing and diffusion of the BWR device has been determined and negotiations are under way to generate a viable Consortium Agreement before the submission to the SMEINST-2 phase of the project.
Task 1.8 BrainWorkladReader Business Plan
As a result of the tasks carried out in the feasibility study, we have defined a business plan which concentrates on the following points:
Product partnership and sales strategy
Value Proposition and product presentation
Main user needs so far identified rely on the availability of quantitative neurometric information directly measured from the body of the operator (pilots, ATCos, etc) for the evaluation of his/her cerebral workload during both training and normal operation. In this perspective, the BWR device will take into account the “mental” state of operators together with the quantified output of his/her overall behavioural data in order to identify how many residual cognitive resources operators may use during emergencies, in order to increase the safety in the working environment. Furthermore, during the training of the operators, supervisors can judge the performance of an operator according to the cognitive resources used during the training task. At the end of the project, it will be possible to integrate the BWR device within the existing training and operative environments for pilots and ATCos. In this context the user needs are related to the monitoring in real time the evolution of the mental workload of the operators, to evaluate their training state or their actual operative capacity.
Economic benefit for the users.
The BWR device will allow to save money and at the same time improving safety in operative environments. In particular, i) it will be possible to improve the training of novel operators, thanks to the objective assessment of the mental state during the training period; ii) it will be possible to avoid human errors (and so reduce the related costs) in operative environments (e.g. airflight pilots, ATCos, operators in control rooms) due to an increase in the cerebral workload that continuously drains the internal cognitive resources of such operators.