Car detects if driver is falling asleep, does nothing

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smart-seat.jpgHow many accidents could have been prevented if the driver was alert enough to avoid that obstacle or apply the brakes a fraction of a second earlier? The answer would be plenty, of course, but now is no time to cry over spilled milk. Japanese researchers from the University of Tokyo have worked with their counterparts from Oita University and the Shimane Institute of Health Science as well as Delta Tooling to develop a prototype of a smart car seat that can detect whether the occupant is about to nod off into la-la land. To find out how this is made possible, kindly head on after the jump.

Initial data was collected by studying various physiological signs of 100 sleepy subjects by focusing mainly on the different changes which occur in one’s pulse and respiration 10 minutes before falling asleep. The researchers then successfully developed a network of sensors that are capable of detecting such changes even after being embedded in the car seat. The seat’s back contains a pair of pulse-monitoring pressure sensors, while respiration-monitoring sensors are tucked away underneath. Initial testing has shown that these sensors work effectively even when the driver is all bunched up with thick clothes.

This advancement is a welcome one, considering previous sleep prediction systems require an array of electrodes to be hooked up to the subject’s body. Unfortunately, while the smart car seat can detect whether you are falling asleep or not, it is still unable to alert you or jolt you awake. I am sure that doesn’t take much work to do as it requires some form of alarm coupled with vibration motors, but apparently the research team claims that a commercial version will only be available sometime within the next five years.

Source: Pink Tentacle via Product Page

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