Toyota Motor Corp delivered a lecture titled "the Development of Technologies to Deal With Sudden Health Problems" at Next-generation Medical Device Summit 2014, which was organized by Nikkei Digital Health May 26, 2014.
The company introduced a system that detects precursors of sudden health problems of the driver by using the steering wheel to measure the electrocardiogram and pulse waves of the driver (See related article).
First, Toyota cited some cases in which a driver's sudden death caused a car accident and presented data to show that 80% or more of the sudden deaths of drivers are caused by sudden health problems related to their circulatory systems. And the company said that it is important to monitor the activity of the driver's autonomic nervous system in the aim of dealing with such problems.
In view of this, Toyota is developing a system that uses a steering wheel to measure electrocardiogram, etc in collaboration with Denso Corp and Nippon Medical School. With a steering wheel equipped with electrodes for measuring electrocardiogram and optical sensors for measuring pulse waves, the electrocardiogram and pulse waves of the driver can be continuously measured and recorded when the driver holds the wheel.
By analyzing the measured data in real time (heart rate variability analysis), it becomes possible to find anomalous patterns that can be considered as precursors of sudden health problems.
Toyota plans to apply the technology to realize a system that can safely stop a vehicle when it detects a precursor of a sudden health problem. As one of the challenges it needs to address, the company cited differences among individuals caused, for example, by the way of gripping the wheel, increase in skin resistance due to aging, etc.
This time, Toyota demonstrated a prototype of the system. After the lecture, it was surrounded by visitors trying to check how it works.