When on the road for long periods of time, drivers experience fatigued and sometimes, they aren’t lucky enough to realize where they are headed and land straight into a chaos. Technology experts are trying to come up with various techniques to warn drivers in such cases, and a German engineering firm called Hoffman and Krippner is coming close to devising a mechanism for just that.
Their product is a steering wheel add on that senses grip and changes in it to detect fatigue in the driver. The sensor works on the principle that driver routinely apply pressure to the steering wheel when alert, moving there hands along it. If a driver falls asleep, or is otherwise not alert, the pressure lessens, hence no movement of hands. Detecting this lapse is the gadget’s stimulus to ascertain something is wrong.
The gadget is a thin strip that attaches to the inside of a steering wheel’s rim, under the cover. This strip is made of layers of coil through which a weak electric current runs. Pressure on the wheel brings the layers in touch and create a short circuit, just as a resistive touchscreen works. A microprocessor records the intensity, frequency and location of these shorts to establish a driving pattern for the user. At any time the pattern deviates from the usual, the car alerts the passengers of the situation.
The tech company claims their resistive technology is far better than any capacitive systems in use today, and it is less sensitive to unwanted stimuli such as dirt, temperature changes, sweat etc. The pressure changes are detected incrementally, and faster than its capacitive counterpart.
And that’s not all from this gadget. The strip has ten hot spots, that are unique pressure points that can be programmed to do different functions. With just one touch, the driver can control communication or entertainment in the car. It’ll be some time before the this warning system hits the market, as the company says commercialization is still “years away.”