Drowsiness at the wheel kills. Even quick attention time-outs called “microsleeps” are enough to put you in the wrong lane. We wrote about Vigo’s headset alertness monitor and JINS‘ MEME eyeglass drowsiness sensing. We also noted Ford Motor Company’s enthusiasm for wearables used in vehicles for their potential to detect and head off drowsiness. The latest solution for driver drowsiness, but surely not the last, comes from Latvian startup Creative Mode.
Creative Mode’s Steer wearable, currently in a Kickstarter campaign, has 16 sensors to measure the wearer’s heart rate and skin conductance (galvanic reaction). Worn just below the elbow, Steer tracks heart rate and skin conductivity every two seconds. If the heart rate drops by 10 beats Steer vibrates and flashes a yellow light. If the heart rate decreases another 3 beats Steer delivers what is described as a “gentle electric shock.” According to the company, Steer’s shock is enough to boost the body’s serotonin, noradrenaline, and cortisol levels and to decrease the amount of the hormone melatonin. The biochemical changes help the driver feel more awake and alert. Steer is made of hypoallergenic plastic and works for two weeks of active use after a one-hour charge via micro USB cable.
Creative Mode does not have a web site, but in a press kit accessed via the campaign, the company says the first shipments will go out in November 2017. Steer creator Vlad Ilyin states that driver drowsiness causes 328,000 accidents a year resulting in 30,000 fatalities annually, 10,000 of those in the U.S. Those numbers are high compared to a 2013 CDC study that reported 800 U.S. fatalities related to driver drowsiness. Crowdfunded projects always deserve to be treated with caution. With Steer, you might want to wait to read user comments or reviews before making a purchase.