The “SENSATION“ project has set out to research a broad spectrum of micro- and nanosensor technologies with the aim of developing unobtrusive, cost-effective instruments for the ubiquitous and around-the-clock real-time monitoring, diagnosis and prognosis of human physiological conditions in terms of alertness, fatigue and stress.



© Photo Fraunhofer IIS


Humans require sleep. The need for sleep is not a personal choice. A sleepless night can easily lead to extreme short-term drowsiness, while on-going sleep disorders cause chronic fatigue. Today´s 24-hour society puts us under pressure to sacrifice sleep without considering the negative impact on our health and faculties. 20 percent of the population suffers from sleep disorders of varying degrees. This can lead to fatigue, concentration problems and a pronounced inability to function, which increases the risk of traffic and occupational accidents. Fatigue diminishes our reaction time and level of alertness, attentiveness and concentration.

When the amount or quality of sleep is inadequate, our attention span is reduced, information is processed slower and decision making capabilities are impacted. Sleep deprivation and the resulting fatigue, inattention, hypovigilance and stress are among the key causes of serious occupational mishaps, including  nuclear power plant disasters such as Chernobyl and Three Mile Island and other deadly incidents like the Bhopal chemical explosion.

Roughly 40 percent of the accident fatalities on U.S. highways are tied to fatigue, whereas sleep accounts for 240,000 traffic accidents each year. In the UK, statistics reveal that 25 percent of the country´s traffic accidents are precipitated by driver fatigue. According to NASA´s aviation security tracking system, approximately 20 percent of the aviation mishaps are also linked to fatigue.

These alarming statistics are the motivation behind “SENSATION“. Sleep duration nevertheless presents an unused window of opportunity to monitor our health. When we sleep, we are in a predictable and controllable environment which “SENSATION“ seeks to exploit.

Project Objectives

The “SENSATION“ project was created with the aim of researching sleep and how it borders on our states of consciousness, in addition to examining stress and other emotions, ultimately leading to new technologies that further our safety, health and well-being. “SENSATION“ thus strives to improve our quality of life and better protect our environment by reducing the number of sleep- and fatigue-related accidents.

The core of the project involves the development of innovative, low-cost and highly-effective micro- and nanosensors and corresponding technologies for monitoring physiological states. The research focuses on brain activity (including sleep and wake states and their borders), stress, understanding and recognizing states of inattention and hypovigilance, prediction and management and the diagnosis, treatment and remote monitoring of sleep disorders.

The research and development approach is grouped into four key areas:

  • Physiological foundations: researching and defining sleep and wake states (including their borders), in addition to creating biomeasurement benchmarks
  • Biosensing: developing ubiquitous and innovative biosensing technologies and associated methods, including connectivity and power functionality
  • Algorithms: developing and implementing signal processing and computer-controlled intelligent algorithms with a focus on sleep, stress, alertness and fatigue levels
  • Industrial and medical applications: implementing biosensing and core programming in medical applications and critical industrial processes (in terms of time and accident impact).

More Information

Brochure “Medical Communication and Biosignal Processing“

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