In order to reduce road accidents caused by tired drivers, Professor Cheung Yi-Ming of Hong Kong Baptist University and his team have developed a system that understands tired / sleepy drivers and wakes them up with smartphone alarm. The system won two awards at the 45th International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva in April 2017 and the team has already filed a patent application in the US.
The system uses the phone’s camera to monitor and analyze the features and expression of the driver’s face; especially the changes in eyelid movements and head position, which are important signs of fatigue. With this system pre-installed on a smartphone, the driver only has to put it close to the steering wheel, with the front camera looking at him, while he is in a normal position and driving attitude.
When the camera “sees” things such as eyelids that close or the head drops forward, an alarm sounds. To confirm that he is really awake and alert, the driver must turn off the alarm either by voice command or by hand.
Professor Cheung Yi-Ming emphasizes that his method only requires a smartphone without additional devices or sensors. As he says, it is economical, handy, portable, accurate, reliable and supports online updates.
Also, as the system includes a smartphone’s rear camera activation option, it can also be used as a regular route logging system, like those used by many drivers today.
According to Professor Cheung, the effects of fatigue should not be underestimated: According to US government statistics, driving by tired drivers is responsible for 31% of accidents with heavy-duty vehicles in the US. An American survey also found that the economic damage caused by so-called “fatigue driving” reaches $3 billion a year.
The system -according to Professor Cheung- is suitable for all drivers, but especially for professionals and machine operators who work long hours of shifts. As he added, companies with fleet of vehicles, or insurance companies may be interested.
At present, there is no such product on the market, which also makes it possible to establish it as a driver’s assistance system to improve road safety.
The professor points out that similar systems are currently installed only in a few, luxurious car models that require additional devices and sensors, making them non-portable, expensive and difficult to install; so without benefit to most drivers.
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