Thermal Imaging of the Face: Mental Workload Detection in Flight Simulator
Authors: Almoctar Hassoumi, Vsevolod Peysakhovich, Arthur Le Coz, Christophe Hurter, Mickael Causse
Abstract: Thermography-based physiological measurement is an active re-search topic. Using such contact-free approach can be particularly helpful for detecting pilots’ mental state in operational settings. In particular, thermal infrared imaging of the face is a powerful and non-invasive tool that enables rapid and automatic analysis of changes in regional facial blood flow. This blood flow changes index sympathetic activity and are measured by capturing thermal imprints of particular facial regions such as nose, forehead, or around the eyes. Although several studies suggest a relationship between cognitive workload and facial thermoregulation profile, evidence about this link has not been yet sufficiently investigated and infrared imaging has yet to prove its importance in the cognitive workload detection scenarios. In this work, we investigated how thermal measures can allow continuous assessment of cognitive workload variations of pilots undergoing simulated flight tasks, and compare these measures with the heart rate, a more established marker,. The approach has been evaluated with 20 participants in flight simulator, and cognitive workload was modulated by the difficulty of two landing scenarios. Participants also performed a resting task (also called cool off). Thermal imprints did not varied significantly with landing difficulty. However, we found that the nose tip and nose area were significantly colder during the flight scenario vs the rest period (signal slope). Further analysis is needed to confirm that the thermal measures could identify more fine grained mental workload variations in a flight simulator setting.
Keywords: Thermal Imaging, Mental Workload, Aviation
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