Awake at the wheel: Tech collaboration aims to save lives

By Sabrina Zearott, College of Arts & Sciences

drowsydriving-roadVANCOUVER, Wash. – Researchers are working across multiple disciplines and campuses at Washington State University to develop a device to help keep drivers awake while on the road.

Dene Grigar, professor of English and director of the creative media and digital culture program at WSU Vancouver, is leading development of an app to enable the device to interface with a driver’s phone or tablet computer.

In the prototype stage, the device uses sensors in a vehicle’s steering column to measure a driver’s normal movements and then produces a warning if changes in the steering pattern indicate sleepiness. The technology relies on an algorithm developed and patented by Hans Van Dongen and colleagues in the WSU Sleep and Performance Research Center in Spokane (read an earlier article here).

Sandip Roy, in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at WSU Pullman, is working to improve the quality of the sensor data (or signal) to increase the algorithm’s effectiveness.

“This is a great example of how multiple groups can all positively contribute to the development of a consumer device that builds from our basic research and makes our roads and communities safer,” said Brian Kraft, director of scholarly knowledge, innovation and leadership development at WSU.

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