I am always looking for ways to make our roads safe with engineering technology, especially with the advent of autonomous vehicles. I was intrigued with an Analog Devices EKG or ECG technology, which is essentially used in an electrocardiogram IC device that can be used in wearables, smart clothing, and even in connected automobiles.
With technology, we can use the human heart biometrics to enhance the safety of in-car travel.
Automotive biometrics, including ECG heartbeat sensors, can be embedded into an automobile’s steering wheel for both secure driver authentication, keyless driver ignition, and more importantly, driver health and vital signs monitoring. Sleepy drivers and distracted drivers are deadly on the road.
Image courtesy of Reference 1
The ECG signal is essentially collected from the driver via electrodes on the steering wheel. The signal is then captured via an ECG Analog Front End (AFE) which amplifies the signal and filters out noise to isolate the relevant information, at which point the signal is digitized and passed to B-Secur's ECG biometric algorithms.
A high performance AFE is recommended for ECG analysis due to the steering wheel sensor small signal amplitude at the hands. Typically, the voltages seen are around 0.5 to 2 mV. The AD8233 is one of many Analog Devices AFEs.
Care must be taken since heart rate monitoring is not completely accurate and there can be risk involved. Developing such software that can handle the data and provide the right course of action if a suspect heart condition is identified is paramount.
Alerting a driver of a heart anomaly could create a panicked reaction, but ultimately with the right software technology in place for the car to take over controls, this architecture can save many lives.
B-Secur’s solution seems to be one of the best available at this time and I am sure it will be refined as we progress further in this effort. Stay tuned for more technology advances like this for vehicle safety.
1 ECG Biometrics for the Connected Car