FOCUS+ wearable tracks tram driver fatigue

A new prototype wearable device to track fatigue in tram drivers and other safety-critical professions has been found to operate with 98 per cent accuracy.


Known as FOCUS+, the wrist-worn device was developed by Edinburgh’s Integrated Human Factors off the back of the Driver Innovation Safety Challenge (DISC), a project led by Edinburgh Trams in conjunction with UKTram and Transport for Edinburgh.

Five biometric sensors continuously monitor the wearer's heart rate, blood oxygen saturation, skin temperature, electrocardiogram, and galvanic skin response, creating a personalised profile over time using machine learning. Once these models have been created, alerts can then be generated to signal where biometric data deviates from its normal baseline.

"We were proud to have been selected to develop this cutting-edge wearable technology as part of the DISC project,” said Neil Clark, CEO of IHF Limited. “FOCUS+ was three years in the making, having evolved using a combination of data analytics, biometrics, and Human Factors-best practice approach to safety.”

Since 2020, FOCUS+ has undergone numerous pilots and design enhancements based on the feedback of UK tram drivers, control room personnel, data scientists, and independent volunteers. Recently, the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board (LRSSB) assessed the algorithms that underpin the system, confirming the device operates with 98 per cent accuracy.

“To establish the 98 per cent accuracy of the algorithms used to assess the data is certainly a remarkable achievement,” said Carl Williams, LRSSB chief executive. “It clearly illustrates the potential of the devices and the underlying software to effectively detect driver fatigue in real-world situations and to further enhance light rail safety.”

While professional tram, train and truck drivers are obvious candidates to benefit from the technology, IHF’s Clark believes FOCUS+ has the potential to be rolled out across a wide variety of sectors where fatigue can have an impact on safety and performance.  

“It represents a significant leap forward in proactive fatigue monitoring and workplace safety,” he said. “I am excited that we have had the system endorsed by the LRSSB and can now go on and fully commercialise the system. We have already had inquiries from as far away as Australia, with its versatility making it a consideration for many hazardous sectors.