As a guy that hit his teenage years in the mid-80s, I loved the movie, "Top Gun". Let's face it, it wasn't exactly a candidate for an Oscar “Best Picture of the Year”, but is there a cooler movie (even today) to crank up your surround sound full blast while watching? I digress....one of the most valuable tools for a pilot (of any sort) has to be their ability to keep their wits when things go wrong. Whether it is a military fighter pilot in a battle or a commuter pilot trying to land during difficult weather conditions, it is imperative that the pilot and their crew maintain a "level head" while things are going wrong. In Top Gun, "Iceman" (played by Val Kilmer, whom I think appears at Wal-Mart openings now) was noted for his incredible patience and the fact that he rarely made mistakes.
To a certain extent, this ability to remain calm and alert comes with experience....if you come across enough situations (in any job, for that matter), you tend to have the ability to deal with the unknown better than most. However, our friends at GE are not purely relying on experience to find out how the pilot is doing…they are bringing in some exciting IoT solutions to help.
In Top Gun, there is a great scene early on (no, ladies, I am not referring to the Volleyball scene) where Cougar has a panic attack while trying to land on an aircraft carrier and is bravely helped by Maverick to land safely. It is right after that scene where Maverick gets yelled at ...."You don't own this plane, Son"....ok, I will stop and try to focus. So, using GE's new technology today, the control room below would have known Cougar was in trouble long before they did back then, and here is how...
GE's solution detects a biomarker called Orexin-A. Basically, this biomarker allows experts to detect when a pilot is tired, fatigued or in this case, extremely stressed. It does so by looking for this biomarker in the perspiration of the pilot using a sensor that looks like the picture show here.
One has to assume that this type of data has uses that go way beyond the role of a pilot and huge safety increases for the field of aviation. It makes sense that soldiers, surgeons, first responders and even athletes would be huge benefactors.
The Bottom Line
It’s not surprising that a company like GE would be behind such a technology given:
1. They have a strong background in Medicine / Health care.
2. They have a strong interest in improving the safety of the aviation space given they are large players in the components side, but also because they are often responsible for the financial aspects of these aircrafts…so it should improve their bottom line.
3. GE's new focus on the Industrial Internet makes this a natural extension to its existing lines.
I think the future of wearables will move from the consumer space to one where corporations / governments find ways to improve the safety of their operations while improving worker safety. I mean, none of us want to see Cougar "orphan his wife and kids". Ok, I will stop quoting the movie now....