December 23, 2014
Who doesn’t love an epic road trip? Pack all of your buddies and gear into the car, hit the open road at the crack of dawn, and cruise the highways of old America to new destinations; it’s a classic, good time.
There’s inevitably one drawback though, and that’s determining who drives at night. It’s not the debate of who will drive, but rather the question of how will the driver stay awake while everybody else sleeps?
Kickstarter recently welcomed a new type of wearable device, U-Wake, that monitors a user’s brainwave activity to prevent driver fatigue. Not only does it help drivers stay awake and alert while driving long distances, it’s a huge advancement in making safe roadways.
Over 100,000 automobile accidents per year are a direct result of driver fatigue, and there are around 1,550 fatalities every year because of it. The founder of U-Wake, Sam Wu, can relate to this statistic personally as one of his good friends was involved in a serious accident in which the driver fell asleep at the wheel: he avoided death, but was seriously injured.
“It was upon hearing that story that I decided we need to create a device that can alert the driver before they fall asleep and ensure that everyone can drive home safely,” says Wu.
U-Wake fits around a user’s head and connects via Bluetooth to their smartphone. In essence it’s functioning as a light weight wearable headband paired with an easy to read dashboard; a user’s fatigue is scored on a scale from zero to 100 with 80 being unsuitable to operate a motor vehicle.
“We have conducted extensive research over the past few years to ensure that we know exactly which area of the brain is in charge of detecting fatigue and that the accuracy of the U-Wake app in detecting fatigue is over 90 percent,” says Wu.
The company is also planning, alongside their Kickstarter, to open their SDK which will allow anybody to write an app that can use the U-Wake hardware EEG technology. According to the team, it could potentially lead to apps that help a user relax or enhance their memory.
Until February 1 the U-Wake campaign will be live on Kickstarter, and the team is looking for a total of $200,000 to further fund their device.
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