Guest Post by: Jason Lancaster
New technology that monitors brainwaves could be the next big tool for combating distracted driving. This kind of innovation has the possibility to completely and totally eliminate the distracted driving problem, as monitoring brainwaves is a near-flawless method for determining whether or not drivers are paying attention to the road. While it’s not quite ready for prime-time, brainwave monitor holds the potential to save thousands of lives per year.
An Attention Powered Car?
Auto makers are already looking into technology that measures and tracks blood pressure, heart rate, and brain activity for integration into the next round of safety features. A number of names in the industry are pushing forward with research that will allow them to equip cars with biometric sensors which would monitor the driver’s health, determine the driver’s likely mental state, and more.
This biometric monitoring technology promises to open the floodgates for monitoring a driver’s activities. Sensors will likely be able to detect when a driver’s eyes aren’t focused on the road, when the driver is perhaps extremely tired, when the driver is inebriated, etc. These systems can be used to temporarily apply the brakes, reduce engine power, and/or signal an alert to the person behind the wheel to get them to focus.
One company is experimenting with an attention powered car that takes the distracted driving choice out of the driver’s hands. When drivers start to drift off and lose focus from the road, their attention powered car will slow down. This amazing system is made possible through brainwave monitoring sensors, which are able to determine when the driver is thinking about something other than the road ahead.
Technology Through Mobile Devices
Brainwave monitoring aside, other forms of technology can be used to achieve many of the same goals. Nissan has developed a Nismo smart watch that may be able to determine a driver’s alertness levels. While still under development, Nissan hopes their watch will be able monitor and identify early signs of fatigue as well as incorporate brainwave scanning.
Eye-tracking systems also offer the ability to monitor a driver’s alertness and whether or not they’re watching the road. Using two digital cameras and sophisticated software, eye-tracking systems do a relatively good job of determining when the driver is watching the road as opposed to texting on their phone. These systems are somewhat costly, however, and aren’t 100% accurate…eyeglasses, sunglasses, etc. can sometimes “fool” these camera systems (only they’re getting better all the time).
The bottom line here is that there is a variety of technology on the horizon which can stop distracted driving. Automakers and private inventors are working hard to come up with technology, but unfortunately none of this technology is quite ready for implementation today. Hopefully, current efforts at education and enforcement will be enough until technology can fix the problem permanently.