Fujitsu Wearable Will Track Driver Drowsiness, Reduce Accidents

The Vehicle ICT FEELythm is the latest product by Fujitsu aimed at making the tech vendor a larger player in the growing wearables and IoT markets.

connected cars

Fujitsu officials continue to make their push into wearables and the Internet of things.

Fujitsu in March will begin shipping its Vehicle ICT FEELythm device that is designed to make the roads safer by sensing when a driver is getting drowsy and then alerting the driver and the driver's company about the problem.

The new sensor device was announced less than a week after the tech vendor showed off the prototype of a ring-like computing device that lets users work hands-free by enabling them to essentially write and point in the air to create a message on a screen or select menu options. Like the ICT FEELythm, the ring-like device is aimed at the commercial sector to make employees' lives easier.

The ICT FEELythm targets the transportation industry in such areas as buses, trucks and taxis, Fujitsu officials said in the Jan. 19 announcement. The company hopes to sell 70,000 units over the next three years.

The wearable device includes a sensor that is attached to the driver's earlobe and monitors the driver's pulse through a proprietary algorithm developed by Fujitsu Laboratories engineers. It gauges drowsiness based on the results from the pulse monitoring, and can alert the driver when the results indicate he or she is getting drowsy.

The device also can link to a company's fleet-management system so that when drowsiness is detected, managers in the office who are monitoring the drivers are notified and can take action. The ICT FEELythm also can be connected to such onboard devices as tachographs, according to company officials.

The main part of the device—which weighs a little more than 3 ounces—is worn around the neck, with the sensor attached to the earlobe. When the sensor determines that a driver is getting drowsy, the device gives off a sound and vibrates to alert the driver, according to Fujitsu. It has a battery life of five days. The ICT FEELythm also has the ability to learn, enabling it to adapt to the vital signs of individual drivers and react on a more individual basis. One set of vital signs for one driver may indicate drowsiness, while those same numbers for another won't.

The sensors can send their data to either an in-vehicle receiver or a smartphone, according to company officials.

Fujitsu officials said they intend to expand what the device can do in the future by enabling them to collect a range of data that indicates not only drowsiness, but also fatigue, stress and tension. The data can be used to create a "hazard map" that will give a more complete look at the driver's condition and enable fleet managers to better predict dangers before they happen.

Like the ICT FEELythm, Fujitsu's ring-like device is aimed at the commercial sector for workers who need the use of both hands and find it difficult to stop what they're doing to type on a computer. The device includes such technologies as a near-field communications (NFC) tag reader, motion sensors—an accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer—Bluetooth Low Energy and a sensor-processing microcontroller that helps map the gestures of the user's hand. The user puts the ring on the index finger and then "writes" or points in the air.

A mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, armed with Bluetooth and running an app from Fujitsu can follow the hand's motions and understand what the user is doing. Fujitsu officials said the recognition accuracy for numbers is about 95 percent.