New aftermarket adds-ons promise safer driving
GERMAN engineering firm Hoffman and Krippner, in co-operation with Guttersberg Consulting, has announced a fatigue-sensing steering wheel that can be added to any car to monitor a driver’s grip.
The technology is based on the fact that when people drive and are reasonably alert, they’re constantly applying pressure to the wheel and/or moving their hands along it. If someone should fall asleep, have a heart attack or otherwise lose consciousness, that pressure will lessen and their hands will move less.
The actual device consists of a thin strip of sensors developed by Guttersberg Consulting that is applied to the inside rim of a manufacturer’s existing steering wheel, beneath the leather (or other) covering. That “Sensofoil” strip is made up of thin layers of foil, that have a weak electrical current running through them.
When pressure is applied and causes the layers to touch one another, it creates a short circuit between those layers, much in the same way that a resistive touchscreen works.
A microprocessor keeps track of the intensity, frequency and location of those shorts, and uses it to establish a typical driving pattern for the user. When they deviate from it significantly, the car will then alert them to wake up and pull over.
Additionally, the system could be programmed to feature up to 10 “hot spots” on the wheel, which the driver could touch to activate features such as entertainment or communications controls.
The company states its wheel is less sensitive to factors such as dirt, sweat and temperature changes; it works even when the driver is wearing gloves; and it detects pressure changes incrementally, as opposed to all or
Heads up! Despite concerns that they may actually make driving less safe, heads-up displays (HUDs) could eventually be standard equipment on most cars.
Alongside the HUDs offered by Garmin, Navdy and Head-sUP!, Canadian company Iris is now also offering a 720 p laser projection unit that mounts on the existing visor bracket, which is joined by a pair of arms to a flip-down transparent screen.
Unlike the Hudway app, which simply reflects the phone’s screen on the inside of the windshield, the Iris uses a screen that fixes to the windshield, displaying data that’s projected onto it while still allowing a view of the street beyond.
It also has its own visor, which can be flipped down to serve the sun-blocking function of the car’s removed visor when needed.
Using an iOS/Android app, the user’s smartphone can connect with Iris via Bluetooth.
The device can then do things like displaying incoming call info or other messages, displaying turn-by-turn GPS-guided directions, or alerting users if they’re exceeding the speed limit in their current geographical location.
Its voice recognition system also allows users to place handsfree calls, while its gesture recognition tech lets drivers accept or reject calls by swiping their fingers through the air in one way or the other.
Even if not synced with a phone, Iris can still communicate with the car’s onboard computer to display the current speed, fuel consumption, and other vehiclerelated data.
The Vancouver-based designers of Iris are now raising production funds on Indiegogo.
A pledge of $299 (R3 721) will currently get you a unit, when and if they’re ready to go.
The planned retail price is $499. — Gizmag.
A new fatigue-sensing steering wheel from Germany works even if drivers wear gloves.