Special fibers could warn sleepy drivers

Systems capable of detecting if a driver is tired are not new, but this is the first time a company has created special fibers capable of warning the driver if he or she is about to fall asleep.

The technology comes from European company IBV that has developed unique fibers that can be integrated into the seat and seat belt. These fibers have electrical properties, according to the company, and can monitor the heart rate and breathing of the person behind the wheel.

The special fibers are found in the seat belt and the seat and analyze heart and breathing rhythms through contact with the back, abdomen, buttocks and legs of the driver.

Fluctuations in heart rate and slow breathing are key indicators of driver fatigue, according to the company. Called the Harken Project, IBV announced this week that initial tests on closed circuit were conclusive, and the company is now preparing to conduct further tests on the road.

The phenomenon of tired driving has garnered a lot of attention in recent months, some even suggesting that sleepy drivers may be as dangerous as drunk drivers.

Technologies currently available in modern cars generally use eye movement to detect driver fatigue and warn the driver. IBV has not specified how its system would indicate to the driver that it is time to rest.