Fatigue can be a killer when you’re driving. According to a 2013 study by National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Wearble technology can play role in addressing this problem. Last year we wrote about SmartCap Tech’s SmartCap that uses sensors to monitor brainwaves to detect alertness level.
Vigo Technologies‘ Vigo is an earpiece-style phone headset that monitors eye blinks and head motion for signs of alertness. A six-axis accelerometer tracks head motion. Infrared sensors track eyelid motion. The skinny end of the Vigo is placed higher than normal, not offset from your mouth. Vigo’s sensor end is used near your upper cheek so the sensors can view your eye. You pair the Vigo headset with a smartphone application via Bluetooth. When the Vigo detects you’re getting drowsy it will stimulate you with your choice of a flashing LED, variable strength vibrations, audio alerts, or preselected music. You can also set the Vigo to make an automated call to a family member, friend, or in some cases a contact where you work. In fleet applications, Vigo calls can inform supervisors when it’s time to instruct drivers to get off the road and take a break. You can also use the Vigo as a conventional headset for phone calls and to stream music from your phone. The smartphone app can display alertness patterns and suggestions on how to improve alertness. The Vigo’s battery charges via a micro-USB cable, and is rated for 10 days of standby and 12 hours of talk time on a single charge. The Vigo is available now for $99 on the company’s website.
At some time in the not too distant future, our cars and trucks may monitor our alertness and take over the driving when we get drowsy. For now, however, devices like the SmartCap and the Vigo appear to be ready to make sure that we’re staying awake behind the wheel.