Toyota Motor Corp, Denso Corp and Nippon Medical School showed a system that measures the electrocardiogram and pulse wave of an anto driver by using the steering wheel for detecting the precursors of sudden changes of the driver's physical condition.
The system was exhibited at the 77th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Japanese Circulation Society, which took place from March 15 to 17, 2013, in Yokohama, Japan.
Toyota, Denso and the school have long been engaged in the research and development of the system but showed it for the first time at the meeting to win support from many medical doctors and other medical experts in the aim of commercializing the system, Toyota said.
Severe arrhythmia and myocardial ischemia that abruptly occur at the time of driving a car potentially cause not only sudden death of the driver but also serious car accidents. The new system was developed for finding the predictors of them, which are the changes of autonomic nerve activities and electrocardiogram, as soon as possible and giving the driver a warning.
To use the system, electrodes for measuring electrocardiogram and an optical sensor for measuring pulse wave are attached to a steering wheel. When the driver holds the steering, it becomes possible to continuously measure and record electrocardiogram and pulse wave.
By analyzing them in real time (heart rate variability measurement), the system detects certain patterns that are considered as the precursors of sudden changes of the driver's physical condition. Those patterns can be observed about two hours before a sudden change of physical condition at the earliest, Toyota said.
It is possible to develop a system that warns the driver with the screen of a car navigation system and enables to easily make a call to a hospital, ambulance, operator, etc when a precursor is detected. Also, in the case where a sudden change of physical condition is imminent, the system might work together with a brake assist function.