Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Seatbelt that tells you when you're sleepy: Device measures heart rate and breathing via sensors before sounding alarm if driver is nodding off

A seatbelt that wakes you up if you are in danger of falling asleep at the wheel is being developed by scientists.
The device measures the driver’s heart rate and breathing via a sensor system knitted into the seatbelt and seat cover.
If the rates drop too much, a warning alarm goes off. 
If a driver is to feel tired at the wheel, meaning their heart and breathing rate drops, the seatbelt would sound a warning
If a driver is to feel tired at the wheel, meaning their heart and breathing rate drops, the seatbelt would sound a warning
Jose Solaz of the Biomechanics Institute in Valencia, Spain, where the HARKEN device is being developed, said: ‘The variation in heart and respiratory rate are good indicators
of the state of the driver as they are related to fatigue. HARKEN can monitor those variables and therefore warn the driver before the symptoms appear.’
The designers say the system is innovative because it can cancel out the motion of the car and only pick up heart and respiratory rate thanks to the ‘smart textile materials’ embedded in the seat cover and seatbelt.
These materials are composed of a combination of fibres and yarns with electrical properties which are mixed with the standard material of the seat and belt. The team say it is a ‘state of the art unobtrusive testing’ and the testing device will be ‘invisible to the user’.
According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, crashes involving driver fatigue are about 50 per cent more likely to result in death or serious injury as they tend to be high speed impacts because a driver who has fallen asleep cannot brake or swerve to avoid or reduce the impact.
A ROSPA spokesman said: ‘Sleepiness reduces reaction time, a critical element of safe driving. It also reduces vigilance, alertness and concentration so that the ability to perform attention-based activities, such as driving, is impaired.
‘The speed at which information is processed is also reduced by sleepiness. The quality of decision-making may also be affected.’
Crashes caused by tired drivers are most likely to happen on long journeys on monotonous roads, such as motorways, according to research. Young male drivers, lorry drivers, employees in company cars and shift workers have been found to be most at risk of falling asleep at the wheel.
Research shows tiredness among drivers accounts for 20 to 35 per cent of serious accidents and suggests there are more than 6,000 fatalities a year in Europe because of driver fatigue.


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