Defended in TalTech’s Master’s Programme in Informatics, the thesis found a novel data collection solution for measuring physical and emotional fatigue. The author of the thesis, Ain-Joonas Toose, and his supervisor, Elli Valla, talked about how the solution was arrived at and how it can be used in the medical field in the future.
Extensive background in the world of IT
Ain-Joonas Toose, the author of the Master’s thesis, has almost 15 years of experience in the IT world – he started out looking for solutions to various computer hardware problems and then went on to learn about software development.
He has previously tried his hand at a number of different jobs, including as a test analyst at Swedbank, where he mainly developed automated tests. In his role as Chief IT Specialist at Elektrilevi, Toose worked with the NIS system, which is used to monitor Estonia’s low and medium-voltage infrastructure. He then moved on to a position as a software developer, where he worked in parallel with his master’s studies at TalTech.
Fatigue is difficult to detect
In his Master’s thesis, Ain-Joonas Toose combined the worlds of psychology and IT, focusing in particular on fatigue. Toose’s supervisor, Elli Valla, who works as an early stage researcher at the Department of Software Science at TalTech, came up with the idea for the topic. In the paper, Toose pointed out that fatigue is an issue that plagues people but it is sometimes difficult to explain why it occurs and how it manifests itself.
Scientists have also yet to find precise answers concerning fatigue – it is relatively clear to them what fatigue looks like in terms of the brain, but defining it using external methods is much more difficult. This is done using special cameras or by measuring blood oxygen levels. There continues to be a lack of simpler and more convenient tools to measure all of the parameters of fatigue, which would make the lives of doctors easier, and provide simpler ways to identify symptoms. It was precisely this goal that Ain-Joonas Toose helped us get a little closer to.
The result is a mobile app
The main aim of Toose’s thesis was to find a solution to test fatigue regardless of time and place and to simplify the process of conducting the research. As a solution, he has proposed a mobile application running on the Android operating system, which can collect kinematic, geometric and other numerical parameters to study fatigue through various fine motor tests.
Machine learning models trained on the collected data showed a high sensitivity score in detecting fatigue. The created mobile app has proven to be an effective way of collecting data, and there are plans to further utilise it in research.
Having defended his Master’s thesis, Toose moved to the Netherlands, where he is working for Katana MRP and providing companies with software that gives them a good overview of their production processes. As far as his future studies are concerned, Toose said that the topic he was studying was of great interest to him and offered opportunities for further research in his doctoral studies.
‘There is a lot to research. One part is what fatigue is like for the average or neurotypical person. Another is what fatigue means for those people who have illnesses that include symptoms of fatigue. For example, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis or different types of cancer. I don’t think we have even touched upon the layer that might be there to assess typical fatigue,’ said Toose. As his Master’s degree was only recently earned, the time is not yet right to say for sure whether this plan will remain in place and when Toose will continue his doctoral studies.
His supervisor, Valla, will continue her doctoral studies and research at the Department of Software Science at TalTech, to further develop the field. ‘I’m really looking forward to having Ain-Joonas or talented people like him join me as colleagues in my doctoral studies,’ Valla said.