Seats to sense you in connected cars may keep you alert or send for help

sensorseatYour driver’s seat may sense that you are drowsy and falling asleep are being developed by Nottingham Trent University researchers.

Professor Tilak Dias and William Hurley of the University’s Advanced Textile Research Group with Plessey are working to integrate an Electrocardiogram (ECG) sensors directly into the fabric of car seats.

The goal is to embed a fabric based sensor system in the seat which can detect heart beats (electrophysiology signals) that show a driver is losing alertness. Information will initiate    a warning to the driver to pull over. If the warning is  ignored, ADFAS systems such as active cruise control or lane departure services may avoid accidents. Information could be sent to infrastructure to alert authorities.

“Plessey has already achieved cardiac signals measured  using capacitive sensors mounted within the driver’s seat. The next step is to improve the quality of the data.  Nottingham Trent University’s knitted conductive textile technology has the potential to produce robust electrodes that can be used in automotive seats..

The Nottingham Trent University and Plessey project was one of 11 to receive funding through the scheme to develop its concept. If successful, the plan is to develop the seats first targeted at truck drivers but also could be used for the luxury car market.

Steve Cliffe, Business Development Director of Plessey, said: “We are extremely excited to be working with Nottingham Trent University on this Technology Strategy Board-funded programm. For the first time it will be possible to reliably and robustly extract using Plessey EPIC (Electric Potential Integrated Circuit) sensors in an automotive environment without direct contact with the body.

The car seat is very important to car safety.  In fact, GM makes model cars that have the Safety Alert Seat, which vibrates on the right or left to warn of hazards on either side.