Modern vehicles have a plethora of safety features that’ll ensure drivers are alert and awake. This technology is great if you happen to own one of those cars, but what if you’re someone like me who drives around in something a lot less luxurious?
To offer older and cheaper cars drowsy driver alerts, a smartphone-based system has been pushed out by a team at Hong Kong Baptist University, led by Professor Cheung Yiu-ming. The set up takes a direct approach, requiring drivers to mount their smartphone in a way so the front camera has a clear view of their face. No additional sensors or hardware components are required.
As someone drives around, the software uses its real-time video feed to search for clear signs of sleepiness, such as eyelid drooping and head positions. If the smartphone registers the driver may be dozing off, an alarm is triggered. The alarm will continue ringing until the driver disables it in one of two ways, either by hand or by the safer option of using a voice command.
According to a Hong Kong Baptist University press release, “Professor Cheung said that the results of fatigue driving should not be underestimated. According to US government statistics, fatigue driving accounts for 31% of road accidents involving heavy vehicles in the USA. An investigation in the US also found that economic losses caused by fatigue driving totaled US $3 billion per year.”
This software is suitable for all drivers, but can especially help those who work long hours and are at higher risk for drowsiness behind the wheel. Additionally, not only can this device increase attentiveness, but can serve as a standard driving recording device.
The fatigue driving detection and alarm system has already earned notoriety, winning the Swiss Automobile Club Prize and the Gold Medal with Distinction in the Computer Science Category at the 45th International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva, Switzerland, in April.
What’s next for this technology? Well, the research team has already filed for a US patent application, with plans to integrate this system into a smartphone’s design or creating a companion, downloadable app.