Hyundai Mobis, one of the world’s top automotive suppliers, has opened the door to cars that can check your vital signs – looking at posture, heart rate, and even brainwaves.
While applications at present are limited, it is claimed that systems like this will play a role as vehicles become more capable of self-driving – for instance creating cars that know when to take over from their driver, should the human at the wheel become incapacitated.
This Smart Cabin Controller (SCC) system is being billed as “something akin to an advanced brain that can analyse vital signs that change in real time”.
The SCC uses a 3D camera to capture the posture of occupants; an ECG sensor mounted on the steering wheel; an ear-set sensor to measure brainwaves flowing around ears; and an HVAC sensor to measure the temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide level of the cabin.
A central controller takes in the various vital signs collected from these sensors in real time.
For example it prompts the car to recommend switching to an autonomous driving mode if the ECG sensor detects a high stress level in the driver.
“This technology is expected to further evolve to be able to guide the vehicle to an emergency room in case of an emergency, such as cardiac arrest,” Hyundai Mobis added.
This bit is clearly more long-term thinking.
More banal applications of the SCC include telling the car to open its windows or switch to the outside-circulation A/C mode if the interior CO2 levels are found to be too high.
“With this new controller, the company is now well on the way to realising safety technology that is focused on the occupants rather than in terms of vehicle performance,” the company added.
The company plans to occupy a nascent market, pairing healthcare technology with mobility. It claims that automotive suppliers are “unprecedentedly showing a move toward securing experts in biotech or robotics” for just this purpose.
“Based on the unique vital signs database we’ve built up, we will upgrade this technology further to provide more features, including carsickness prevention, stress management, and the blocking of drunk driving,” said R&D head Cheon Jae-seung.
Last year Hyundai Mobis also became the world’s first auto supplier with a brainwave-based driver monitoring system.