Readers of Medgadget are well aware of non-invasive heart and respiratory rate monitoring, but the technology that’s been getting popular for clinical patient monitoring is now being used to detect when car drivers are getting drowsy. Researchers from Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia (Biomechanics Institute – IBV) in Spain led the effort to integrate sensors into a car’s seat and seatbelt that can continuously track the heart beat and breathing of the driver.
The system compensates for vibrations arising from the car , as well as for the driver’s movement within the seat. The readings are collected by a computer that can interpret the vital signs with the hope of warning the driver if he/she is falling asleep. The last component is not built yet, but being able to read the heart and lung activity in a vibrating vehicle is already an impressive feat. Our hope is that one day simply plopping into a car seat will mean getting a physical checkup. Cough please.
The Harken device, developed by companies, universities and technology centres of the consortium, “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. 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.”
The outcome of this project is a fully functional prototype that allows anticipating the symptoms of fatigue associated with breathing and heart rate, and monitors this physiological activity, with the aim of reducing the number of accidents.
The system is based on three main components: the seat sensor, the seat belt sensor and the signal-processing unit (SPU), that processes the sensor data on real time. Besides, thanks to its integration possibilities, they are invisible to the user.
Link: HARKEN project…