Preventing Driver Fatigue thru Wearable Technology

Male driver hands holding steering wheel.

Almost 4,000 people were killed and 95,000 were injured in Large Truck accidents in 2013, reports The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the latest year for which data is available.  As the industry works to decrease this number, tech companies are proposing wearables as a potential solution says a new article from Transport Topics.

The Apple Watch and other smartwatches provide a natural springboard for monitoring driver behavior and providing navigation.  Taps on the wrist, via the watch, can be deployed to alert when driver exceeds speed limit, or if using navigation, when a turn is coming up.  These taps are designed to provide data in a non-obtrusive way that does not require the driver taking his or her eyes off the road.  Additionally, the watch face can be configured to show remaining hours of service, ensuring ease of information gathering for the driver.

Other tactics involve the driver wearing a headset to monitor behavior and warn of fatigue before it is too late. A headset designed by Maven Machines can detect the difference between nodding off (looks for head bobs common during micro sleep when neck relaxes and chin falls to neck) and the driver looking in the rear view and side mirrors. If it is determined to be micro-sleep, the headset will sound an alarm to alert the driver, and will send a record back to the trucking company so that they can study these movements over time.  Another company, SmartCap, has designed a similar headset in a baseball cap, which sounds an audible alarm when the driver exhibits micro-sleep as well as projects a visual in-cab display.  A third company, OMSignal has designed a smart shirt that monitors and tracks the driver’s physiology, communicating info about heart rate, breathing rate, and body positioning. The intent of all these devices is to create more proactive alerts to prevent crashes from occurring in the first place.  To read more on this technology, click here.