Toyota is working on a multitude of technologies that will make driving safer, and showed some of its up and coming safety innovations in a demonstration to reporters last Thursday at its facility in Japan. Among the exhibits were a pre-collision system with a steering-control feature, a pop-up hood and blocking of high-beam headlights, but also an ECG detecting driving wheel.
Whereas Ford is opting for a contactless ECG-sensing driving seat, Toyota is going the more obvious way, by direct contact sensors in the steering wheel. Of course this depends on the driver keeping hands on the steering wheel long enough to detect any abnormal heart rhythm, which might not be the case in more acute conditions such as VF. An optical sensor mounted in the steering wheel picks up a single-lead ECG signal, and alerts the driver through the display about any abnormalities that need attention. In an experimental system installed in a Prius, the chart of the driver’s heartbeat and electrocardiogram can be viewed on the display of the in-car navigation system. In addition to alerting of any serious conditions, Toyota also sees the system being used as a sort of daily health check.