The theme of passenger-aware vehicles is taking the Consumer Electronics Show, underway this week in Las Vegas, by storm.
As technology evolves to have the passenger and the car totally in sync, one Israeli company has developed a sensor that can detect even the slightest movement from a human or object anywhere in the vehicle.
This could be a major step in offering solutions to the heartbreaking problem of hot car infant fatalities. Last year alone, there were 42 deaths of children who were left in hot vehicles. Such a sensor could prevent these tragedies.
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“Guardian Optical Technologies’ sensor provides all the necessary information regarding the occupants, the number of occupants, where do they sit, what is their physical size, and what is their posture even,” says Gil Dotan, CEO and creator of the sensor.
Dotan and his team want the sensor in cars by 2020 and he says that is ambitious, but there are so many future applications for the data the sensor collects, including triggering the start of the air conditioning, initiating alarms to sound, or alerting help with a call being sent out to family members.
“If this is indeed a dangerous scenario, you can prevent the driver from locking the vehicle, start the horn, you can call the police or call a caregiver…the car can do that autonomously,” says Dotan. He added, “It’s a tragic scenario and no one really wants to be in that position.”
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The technology can detect motion down to the one-micrometer scale. Dotan says that is one meter divided into a million small parts and it can pick up a heartbeat of say, a baby or respirations of an adult.
The sensor would be placed in the middle of the cabin of the car. For the demonstration, Dotan and his team used a baby doll with actuators that mimic movements of a beating heart to showcase how the sensor can indicate there is a presence inside the vehicle.
Dotan notes that previously many car companies were solely preoccupied with preventing car crashes and collisions, but that they are partnering with some in the auto industry to help tackle this problem.
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“On average, in the U.S., there are 38 (yearly) fatalities from heat stroke originated from forgotten infants in cars. In terms of car crashes and fatalities, you have roughly 35,000 cases each year,” says Dotan.
That’s a three-degree of magnitude difference, but he noted that any incremental impact to be safer is welcomed.