By now, everyone knows they shouldn’t drink and drive, or text and drive, or even talk on the phone and drive. Those are the big three that get all the media attention. But what about driving tired? It is estimated that 400,000 accidents are caused every year in the United States alone as a direct result of driving while drowsy. That number is undoubtedly low, as it considers only police-reported accidents where the driver admitted to being drowsy. In Europe, Australia, and other countries with better reporting systems than the US, it is estimated that drowsy driving accounts for 10-30 percent of all accidents.

Enter Harken. Harken integrates smart textiles and sensors into seat belts and car seat covers to measure heart and breathing rate as well as other factors. When the system detects the driver is in danger of falling asleep, an alert is triggered to wake the driver up before an accident can occur. Obviously there is margin for error here, but I would like to think that a driver, upon being awakened by Harken, would be able to pull over and catch a nap if the situation allowed for it. If nothing else, at least Harken would be there to prevent major tragedy from happening.

Harken is the brain-child of the Instituto de Biomecánica de Valencia (IBV) aka Biomechanics Institute in Valencia, Spain. It uses three main components to function: a seatbelt sensor to measure heart rate, a seat cover to measure respiration, and a signal processing unit (SPU) to put it all together.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=weD1-YA-7kM]

As of now, Harken has shown excellent results in closed-track testing, and will soon be tested in the real world. No word yet on when it might actually be available or the cost when it is, but it’s definitely something to keep an eye out for, especially if you’re someone who spends a great deal of time on the road.

Source: Damn Geeky

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