- Helping you drive happy

A seat belt that detects driver fatigue (video)

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A new seat belt and seat cover developed by scientists at the Biomechanics Institute of Valencia (IBV), in Spain, is equipped with heartbeat and respiratory rate sensors to detect signs of driver fatigue. The prototype called Harken - Heart and Respiration In-Car Embedded Non-Intrusive Sensors - consists of a series of sensors embedded in the driver seat and seat belt, which can measure the driver’s heart rate and respiratory pace.

“Variations in heart and respiratory rates are good indicators of the state of the driver as they relate to fatigue. So when the driver goes into a state of fatigue or 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,” explained José Solaz, IBV Director of Innovation Markets in Automobile and Mass Transportation.

So, if the driver starts to doze off, the system will emit a warning alarm and urge the driver to stop and take some rest. Last April, researchers asserted that their prototype was ready to be tested under real world conditions. Obviously, several months of additional trials will be necessary before Harken takes this innovative new product to market.