“Fatigue stress measurement system” that can measure both fatigue and stress using biological dataFatigue Science Laboratory Inc.
“VM500” developed in 2016
Points to remember
- Contribute to the prevention of performance deterioration due to fatigue and stress
- Develop products by bringing together the knowledge of universities, research institutes, and manufacturers
The Fatigue Clinical Center was set up at the Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka City University in 2005 when national public universities became independent administrative institutions. The center in addition to diagnosis, treatment, and evaluation of patients with chronic fatigue started research on the topic “Fatigue”.
Fatigue was mainly diagnosed based on the subjective complaints of the subjects and patients. Though objective evaluation is performed by collecting blood and extracting several hormone substances (fatigue markers), fatigue is not included in the category of diseases specified by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, and there is no insurance for treatment or diagnosis except for chronic fatigue syndrome. The cost of blood collection, analysis, and evaluation is very high. Also, since it is a time-consuming process, a system for simple and objective evaluation is required.
Based on this background, the Fatigue Science Laboratory Inc. was established in the same year with investment from around ten doctors of the center. Initially, the main work was filing applications, management, and administration of intellectual property rights of the physicians, but later the lab began to address the need for a “Simple and objective evaluation of fatigue”. The company started developing a system for the evaluation of fatigue based on the measurement of autonomic nerves in collaboration with the Fatigue Clinical Center, Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka City University and RIKEN.
Fatigue is considered to be the deterioration in performance due to the tiredness of brain functions. Therefore, sufficient sleep with proper rest can prevent deterioration in performance. The “Fatigue stress measurement system” developed by the company is one of the best tools to review lifestyle habits as it can measure both fatigue and stress using biological data. They took three years to develop the product after the company was established.
The system measures both pulse and heart waves at the same time and analyzes heart wave fluctuations from the results to quantify and display the balance of autonomic nerves and functional age of autonomic nerves, which are the criteria to evaluate fatigue and stress. While developing the system, a pulse wave meter and an electrocardiograph were used initially to detect the pulse and heart waves. Both have advantages and disadvantages, and difficulty to perform accurate measurement easily was one of the weakness. Meanwhile, in 2012, a manufacturer of major electronic components developed a sensor that can measure both pulse and heart waves at the same time, and the company collaborated with the manufacturer to develop the device.
Simultaneously measurement of pulse and heart waves using the sensor solves the following problems of the pulse wave meter and electrocardiograph.
Electrocardiogram: Measurement failure due to electromyograph noise
Pulse wave meter: Measurement failure caused by poor blood circulation due to anemia or low outside temperature
Measurement errors have been eliminated with this product enabling high accuracy measurements.
The company collaborated with the Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka City University, Yokohama National University, and RIKEN for developing the analysis program used to evaluate the measurement results. The measurements are plotted on the evaluation results table with 16 matrices prepared from the activity amount of autonomic nerves of each generation and balance between sympathetic nerves and parasympathetic nerves, and comments are output based on the results.
The development of the “Fatigue stress measurement system” can be said to be based on the collective knowledge of universities, research institutes and manufacturers.
The advantages of the “Fatigue stress measurement system” are as follows.
〇Compact, lightweight, inexpensive and simple
〇High measurement accuracy
〇Accuracy of evaluation content with results plotted on 16 matrices
〇Easy to use (VM500 can be used for measurement anytime, anywhere in a Wi-Fi environment using a smartphone or tablet for server analysis)
〇Since a server is used for analysis, the results of many measurements (BIG DATA) can be easily evaluated.
(Such as by age, by gender, by section, by division, by company, and by work method)
The device can be used to check the fatigue status at the workplace, and it has the potential to be utilized over a wide range of applications, including health support activities at pharmacies and sports clubs. An application example is the “ME-BYO” project, which was promoted in Kanagawa Prefecture, and the VM-500 device was used to measure the health status of residents and employees of prefectural companies in 2017. The company is currently conducting field tests for the fatigue level of truck drivers working at large transportation companies in the Kanto area using 100 units of VM500. In the current fiscal year, the company plans to extend the tests to the whole of Japan and prepare an index for the health of drivers.
In 2018, a new “Fatigue and stress measurement system” which is a non-medical device was jointly developed with a manufacturer of major electronic components mentioned above. Mr. Kunihiko Kuratsune, representative director of the company, said, “Currently the device is targeted at companies, and the device can be sold to large-scale retailers if the costs are reduced”.
With the present demand for “Workforce reformation”, companies from various fields are looking forward to the products developed by the company. The day is near when consumers will be able to buy the products of the company.
Interview Date: March 26, 2019
With the support of the Fatigue Clinical Center of Osaka City University over 15 years, we succeeded in the quantification of fatigue/stress in a numerical form by evaluating autonomic nerves in detail based on heart rate variability. Through this achievement, we have acquired many patent and intellectual property rights, and built highly accurate systems in collaboration with Japan's major manufacturers of sensing devices.
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