Alertness and biometrics all-in-one seatback sensor?

November 16, 2016 // By Julien Happich
Last month, Plessey and Segula Technologies were demonstrating a new heart-rate based driver alertness monitoring system at the Paris Motor show, embedding Plessey's EPIC (Electric Potential Integrated Circuit) sensors into the seatback to detect early signs of drowsiness or health issues.

By detecting changes in electric potential, the seatback system is able to sense the electrical impulses of the heart without direct skin contact and can return an accurate R peak signal from the users ECG which can be used to calculate Heart Rate Variability (HRV or the variation in the time interval between heartbeats).

"These changes become more regular as you become drowsy", explained EPIC Commercial Director Alan Colman in a meeting at electronica, "so you can work out if the driver is becoming drowsy before he/she falls asleep, which is not the case of most camera-based eye-control systems that only detect when the person is actually falling asleep, which would be too late in most cases".

"In the automotive industry, truck OEMs also want to look for tachycardia (accelerated pulses) or bradycardia (abnormally slow) to monitor the driver's condition and eventually automatically bring the truck or bus to a safe stop", Colman said, adding that the EPIC sensors are an easy retrofit (with the seat).