Scientists invent device that monitors a driver's eyes and sounds alarm if they fall asleep at the wheel
Last updated at 12:35 PM on 10th November 2010
German scientists have invented a device designed to prevent motorists from falling asleep at the wheel which could save 300,000 lives a year around the world.
The system devised at the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology involves tiny cameras that monitor eye movements which trigger an alarm when drivers seem about to nod off.
Cameras are set up to follow the line of vision even when the driver's head moves left or right.
The Eyetracker monitors the driver's eyes and the system will sound an alert if it determines that the driver is falling asleep
Utilising up to six dashboard-mounted cameras with compact 3 to 4 millimetre lenses, the system processes up to 200 images per second to detect sleepiness using parameters like line of vision and eyelid position, irrespective of the position of the driver's head.
Professor Peter Husar of the institute said: 'What we have developed is a small modular system with its own hardware and programmes on board, so that the line of vision is computed directly within the camera itself.
'Since the Eyetracker is fitted with at least two cameras that record images stereoscopically – meaning in three dimensions – the system can easily identify the spatial position of the pupil and the line of vision.
'It will immediately recognise when a driver‘s eyes are are tired or close their eyes for a moment.'
The system is called 'Eye Tracker' and could be on the market as early as the end of next year. The alarm can either come in the form of flashing lights or a bell or siren, or even a vibrator on the steering wheel, and can be adapted to any car on the market.
The size of a matchbook, testing is due to start in January 2011 and scientists hope it will be ready for sale by December at around £100 a unit.
Much interest has been shown in the system from heavy haulage companies whose drivers, particularly in third world countries, are prone to serious fatigue at the wheel.