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What are the Anthill Cool Company Awards?
The Cool Company Awards were launched in 2006 as a way for Anthill to acknowledge and celebrate Australian organisations that are doing things differently to bring about positive change. Cool Companies stay one step ahead of the rest. They breed leaders who are rule-makers and rule-breakers. They are trend-setters in attitude and action. Quite simply, they are … cool! More.
Simply put, Optalert is about saving lives while trying to reduce risk in one of the world’s riskiest jobs. And it does it in a high-tech way that was more than cool enough to top the Innovation category of Anthill’s Cool Company Awards for 2010.
Melbourne-based Optalert markets a product designed to detect the early onset of a long-haul driver’s drowsiness by measuring his or her level of alertness, quantifying to both driver and company the “Fatigue Risk Profile.” The product was designed mainly for the transport and mining sectors.
A driver wears patented glasses that, through light emitters and receivers built into frame, measure the velocity of the driver’s eyelid 500 times per second. A dashboard indicator displays an alertness score ranging from 0 to 10. The higher the score, the drowsier the driver is. The score is transmitted by mobile internet, so driver and fleet managers share responsibility.
Optalert sounds an alarm up to 30 minutes prior to sleepiness characteristics setting in. This enables the driver to make an informed decision based on an impairment score on the driver’s dashboard.
The Optalert product, launched in 2007, is built on the sleep research of Dr. Murray Johns, who spent more than 30 years developing the Epworth Sleepiness Scale, which is a standard in professional driving. Johns serves as Optalert’s chief scientist.
Competitive products used guesswork, lane-changing behavior or a device that monitored whether a driver’s head had slumped to his chest — “too late in our book,” said Raymond Lee, Optalert marketing manager.
The system, which won this year’s Australian Mining Prospect award for Excellence in Mine Occupational Health and Safety, is available directly from the company in Australia, South Africa, South America and, via distributors, in North America.
Did Optalert sparkle right out of the gate? Well …
“We released a first-generation product that was so ugly it’s amazing to think people would even wear them,” Lee said. The company redesigned the glasses, which Lee said then won numerous design awards.
Optalert pays its dues to the ecology by teaming up with Greenfleet, which offsets the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the electricity used at OPTALERT’s Melbourne office, and with Mystique Printing, which offsets the emissions from all printed marketing materials.
And what’s the coolest thing about Optalert? Said Lee: “We have the pleasure of working for a company that is on a noble path of saving lives and not just lining pockets. It has been an arduous journey for the founding members of the company, but we are gaining momentum and spreading the Optalert word far and wide. Soon, our product will have market share on every continent and that makes us smile, because it means fewer deaths on roads and more drivers coming home to their families.”
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