Driving long distances can be tiring, and that's what makes it dangerous. It's not hard to get a little drowsy while at the wheel, your eyelids getting heavy and wanting to take just a quick couple seconds of shuteye.
Enter Steer, a wearable that just launched on Kickstarter and promises to wake you up when you're starting to feel tired while driving. Steer founder Vlad Ilyin tells Wareable that the device uses a heart rate sensor and skin conductance to tell when you're getting a little sleepy. From the moment you put the device on your arm, it's measuring your heart rate every five seconds and how much you sweat.
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Steer activates when two conditions are met: your heart rate slows down and there's a decrease at sweat secretion. When those things happen, Steer issues a small electric shock. This, of course, wakes you up instantly. So why use some as drastic as an electric shock and not music, caffeine or conversation?
"From my and from other's experience, loud music does not help every time, also it is distractive and sometimes harmful to your ears, also there is a lot of evidence that humans can fall asleep even in a loud environment," Ilyan explains. "Caffeine can also cause harm to your health. A high dosage of caffeine can cause anxiety, high blood pressure or even seeing flashing lights."
Even if you're well rested and ready for a long journey, the monotony of driving can eventually make you tired, causing something called "micro sleep," which is a bout of sleep that can last from a fraction of a second to 30 seconds.
A similar incident happened to Ilyan's friend, who fell asleep for a few seconds and ended up driving into a tree, breaking his collarbone. While his friend turned out OK, it inspired Ilyan to look into statistics on accidents caused by sleeping. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 56,000 accidents a year can be attributed to sleep. In the UK, around one-quarter of fatal and serious accidents occurred because of driver fatigue.
As for the hardware itself, there are 16 sensors on the device. 14 of those are for galvanic skin response while two are dedicated to heart rate. The body of the device is made from a hypoallergenic plastic while the strap is, well, a strap that can be adjusted to fit on your arm. It also uses a font that looks incredibly similar to the Tesla font. While the Steer will retail for €199, there are two Kickstarter specials that'll get you the device for €89 (super early bird), €99 (early bird) and €109 (regular bird).