Two Japanese companies have partnered to develop a wearable device that tells you if you’re too sleepy to drive by reading the electrical signals from your heart.
Last year, Japan registered 3904 fatalities in traffic accidents, the third lowest since 1948. The reported figure means a 5.2 percent drop from 2015, indicating that factors such as improved vehicle performance, better road conditions, and government sponsored traffic safety education have noticeably decreased risks for drivers in the land of the rising sun.
By comparison, in the United States, there were 35.092 traffic related casualties in 2015. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the US has 10.9 deaths per 100.000 habitants, while Japan has 3.9.
Toyobo and Union Tool are collaborating to take this statistic even lower, co-developing a drowsiness detection system that integrates Toyobo’s high-end fabric technologies with Union Tools’ hardware expertise.
Our hearts emit a particular pattern of electrical signals when we’re about to fall asleep. Their product, the Cocomi undershirt, identifies these signals and warns the driver by activating an alarm. The fabric used is just 0.3mm thick, providing a comfortable fit and allowing natural movement without sacrificing functionality. Also, its low electrical resistance allows it to collect biological data with high precision.
The undershirt is an upgrade from a previous product from Union Tool, a belt-like device that fastened at the torso and attached to the skin with gel-capped electrodes.
The innovative Cocomi undershirt is currently being tested by the Chunichi Rinkai Bus Company in Yokkaichi City, located in Mie Prefecture, central Japan.