Spain's Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia has now created the Harken project, which places sensors into seatbelts and car seats to track drivers' alertness.
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Driving while sleepy can be just as dangerous as drink driving, and yet there isn’t currently a way to test for tiredness in the event of a crash. Marketing campaigns such as Drive Awake have used facial recognition to detect if drivers are falling asleep, but required drivers to take it upon themselves to install the app. Spain’s Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia (IBV) has now created the Harken project, which places sensors into seatbelts and car seats to track drivers’ alertness.
The system uses smart textiles embedded with sensors to monitor the key indicators of the driver’s sleepiness. Connected to a signal processing unit that filters out the motion of the car from the data, the seatbelt features a heartrate monitor while the fabric covering the seat can detect breathing rate. When the user begins to become fatigued, the heartrate drops and breathing becomes heavier. When they drop below a certain threshold, an alarm is triggered to wake up the driver.
Watch the video below to learn more about the project:
The team has successfully trialled the system on a closed track test and aims to work with manufacturers to include the system as standard in vehicles. Are there other ways to use sensor technology to ensure that drivers keep their eyes on the road?