Early July saw the unveiling of a clever new car seat capable of detecting its occupant’s heart rate, alertness levels and, through monitoring vital signs, their state of health.
The perfect companion for such a seat would be a seatbelt with similar qualities - and now we have one.
In fact, the new seatbelt (from Biomechanics Institute in Valencia) is already prepared for integration with just such an advanced seat.
Dubbed ‘HARKEN’ (Heart And Respiration In-Car Embedded Non-Intrusive Sensors), the new seatbelt also monitors a driver’s heart rate while combining with smart textiles in a seat cover that measure breathing patterns.
As the pair detect a driver who is about to fall asleep, an alarm or seat vibration can capture the driver’s attention and let them know it’s time for a break.
"The variation in heart and respiratory rate are good indicators of the state of the driver as they are related to fatigue," Biomechanics Institute’s Jose Solaz said.
"So when people go into a state of fatigue or drowsiness, modifications appear in their breathing and heart rate. Harken can monitor those variables and therefore warn the driver before the onset of symptoms of fatigue."
The Institute has already completed testing in closed-road environments, and now plans to test its Harkin system on public roads.
While the company plans to offer the new technology to carmakers and others in the near future, a launch date has yet to be finalised.