*You’ve got to love scientists. They never stop thinking outside of the box. Now a group of scientists in Spain are working on the HARKEN device, a seat belt that will alert you and wake you up if it feels you are in danger of falling asleep at the wheel.
HARKEN measures the driver’s heart rate and breathing via a sensor system embedded in both the seat belt and seat cover, and if the rates drop too much, a warning alarm goes off.
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 claim that the system’s innovation comes from its ability to cancel out the motion of the car so that it only picks up the persons heart and respiratory rate. This is due to the ‘smart textile materials’ – which consist of a combination of fibers and yarns with electrical properties mixed in with the standard materials – that are embedded into the seat cover and seat belt.
The team calls it 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.
Read more about this and other inventions for fatigued drivers here.