Home >mint-lounge >features >Beyond airbags: Mind Sense will monitor drivers

Several car companies are trying to develop and integrate technology that will make roads safer and reduce the number of accidents caused by driver error. Jaguar Land Rover has announced it is working on a project called Mind Sense that will monitor a driver’s heart-rate, respiration and levels of brain activity constantly, and throw up warnings if it detects stress, fatigue or a lack of concentration. Importantly, these warnings won’t be shrieking alarms but more subtle alerts.

Mind Sense will include brainwave sensors fitted into the steering wheel of the Jaguar XJ sedan. The sensors are the same ones NASA uses in their spacecraft, but have been modified for a car. The human brain continually generates at least four distinct waves. The sensors constantly monitor the dominance level of each brainwave and, using an algorithm in the car’s on-board computer, decipher whether the driver is focused, distracted or perhaps even sleepy.

There are medical-grade heart and respiratory sensors installed in the seat. They will work in conjunction with self-driving technology—if the sensors detect a serious medical condition causing the distraction, the self-driving feature will take control of the vehicle from the driver. Even the slightest detection of high stress levels will trigger the car’s infotainment system to tweak the climate control settings or perhaps even the music settings.

Mind Sense will also feature a haptic accelerator pedal that will alert the driver to a possible emergency—vibrations and pulses will be passed through the foot of the driver to alert him to any abnormal activity. The pedal also has a torque motor that can add resistance in the pedal to notify the driver that they are pushing it too hard. This is a massive improvement on the current method of using various voice and beep alerts, which end up confusing some drivers even more.

Presently, other car makers also install driver monitoring systems, but they work in a slightly different way. For example, Mercedes-Benz deploys a feature called Attention Assist, which monitors and understands the driving characteristics of the driver and monitors conditions such as lane drifting or constantly decreasing or increasing pressure on the throttle to determine if he is distracted.

Jaguar Land Rover is also working on an enhanced infotainment system that will reduce the amount of time for which the driver’s hands are off the wheel. The system automatically determines which control or button the driver is reaching for and engages it while the human finger is still in mid-air. It uses ultrasonic pulse to allow you to control it without the finger actually having to touch a physical button or touchscreen.

The company is currently working on this project in a Jaguar XJ sedan. There is no word yet on when it will be available in cars being sold in showrooms.

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