Not only will the Internet of Things change the way you live, it will also enhance the way you drive. Before the day where we’ll see driverless cars, the world will have the chance to experience just how embedded technology could drastically alter the way in which we operate vehicles, not to mention save lives along the way. Despite the emergence of wearable devices throughout the marketplace, surprisingly only a few of these devices focus on enhancing safety.
Though it may not receive as much recognition as drunk driving, drowsy driving is a worrisome behavior that puts commuters at risk. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that tired drivers cause more than 100,000 crashes a year, leading to 40,000 injuries and 1,550 deaths.
Scientists in Valencia, Spain are developing a non-invasive system measures heartbeat and respiratory rate embedded sensors in the seat cover and the seat belt of a vehicle. Created by the Biomechanics Institute (IBV), the Heart and Respiration In-Car Embedded Non-Intrusive Sensors (Harken) system works by measuring the heart rate and respiratory pace of a driver.
When the sensor data indicates a person is dozing off, the researchers envision an alarm going off to wake the driver before control of the vehicle is lost. “The variation in heart and respiratory rate are good indicators of the state of the driver as they are related to fatigue. So when people go into a state of fatigue or drowsiness, modifications appear in their breathing and heart rate; HARKEN can monitor those variables and therefore warn the driver before the onset of symptoms of fatigue,” explained José Solaz, IBV Director of Innovation Markets in Automobile and Mass Transportation.
The two-year project ended in June with a working prototype tested on closed roads. Thanks to its short time-to-market scope, Harken will shortly allow to have vehicles in the streets in order to run tests in real traffic scenarios. “Preliminary tests have led to positive and reliable results, thus, Harken help in the near future to reduce accidents,” added Solaz.