Safety against the sandman
The safety of vehicles has increased immeasurably, but road accidents are still a major cause for concern – with driver fatigue playing a big part. All hope isn’t lost, however, thanks to Harken – a non-invasive sensor system embedded into the seat covers and seat belts of a vehicle, which measures heartbeat and respiratory rate.
According to José Solaz, director of Innovation Markets in Automobile and Mass Transportation at the Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia (IBV)* – Biomechanics Institute – in Spain: “The variation in heart and respiratory rates are good indicators of the state of the driver, as they are related to fatigue. So, when people go into a state of 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.”
The wonder of it all is that, according to IBV, no system was capable of measuring these vitals, in a vehicle, in a non-invasive way. “Harken is 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,” adds Solaz.
“The system detects the mechanical effect of the heartbeat and the respiratory activity. While doing so, it filters and cancels the noise caused by the moving vehicle elements (vibrations and body movements),” he continues.
So, all that you have to do is sit back, buckle up and relax, as Harken will make sure that you don’t doze off.
Solaz adds that the device has been tested by users in closed track tests, in order to prove its effectiveness under real-life conditions. The project will take to the streets to test it in real traffic scenarios, in the not too distant future.
Solaz concludes:”Preliminary tests have led to positive and reliable results, thus Harken could help to reduce accidents in the near future.”
*IBV is a technology centre that studies the behaviour of the human body and its interaction with products, environments and services.