Falling asleep when driving is a major concern for long distance or frequent drivers but researchers at Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia in Spain may have come up with an early warning system for the drivers by integrating sensors in the car seats and seat belts.
Called the Harken device, the sensor system tracks the heart beat and breathing of the driver and compensates for car vibrations and movement of the driver.
The data is then sent to a computer which then interprets the vital signs by associating them with symptoms of fatigue before sending out a warning to the driver if he or she is feeling drowsy or falling asleep.
The developers have defined the system as "an innovative solution because it measures both variables on a scenario affected by vibrations and user movements, by means of intelligent materials embedded into the seat cover and the seat belt. The system detects the mechanical effect of the heart beat and the respiratory activity, filtering and cancelling the noise caused by the moving vehicle elements (vibrations and body movements), calculating the relevant parameters that will be integrated into future fatigue or somnolence detectors".