Blinking speed monitor helps road safety

A Japanese company has developed an eyelid monitor, which is designed to detect when a driver is drowsy and should therefore take a break.

The device, created by Aisin Seki Co Ltd, has been based on symptoms in eyelid behaviour which denote fatigue and eliminates the need for human judgement when it comes to assessing whether a motorist is fit to drive.

A range of variables are tracked by the eyelid monitor, such as blink speed and frequency, as well as the average eyelid position.

Further to this other behaviours are also tracked in order to assess competency, including eye movement speed and the vergence angle, which denotes where the line of sight in both eyes converge.

These symptoms have both been associated with drivers deviating from their lanes and slow reaction times when motorists have been monitored in driving simulations.

The device consists of a camera unit fitted into the car to track the eye behaviour of the driver and send out an alert when necessary.

When the new technology was trialled on a test track it was found that the parameters measured were good indicators of the drowsiness of drivers.

The dangers of driving when tired have been recognised worldwide and a number of countries have run awareness campaigns to encourage drivers to take a break when necessary.

These depend on drivers’ ability to judge when they are too tired to drive and this new technology could potentially remove fallible human judgement from the equation.

Tiredness is the biggest cause of fatal road accidents above any other in Japan, which has led to the development of this device.

Due to the fact that motorists are put under less stress when they are in a simulator and are therefore less inclined to get sleepy, the firm have also used real life driving situations to test the technology.

An algorithm is currently being developed in order to accurately convert the measured eyelid movements into drowsiness

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