Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search


UC device to detect drowsiness may save lives

World first of its kind UC device to detect drowsiness may save lives

August 30, 2012

University of Canterbury (UC) is developing a device with the New Zealand Brain Research Institute to detect drowsiness or lapses that could be fatal for truck drivers, pilots, and air traffic controllers.

Electrical engineering PhD Student Simon Knopp is developing a world first of its kind prototype head-mounted device to study drowsiness at the NZ Brain Research Institute (NZBRI) in Christchurch.

Under the supervision of Professors Richard Jones and Phil Bones, Knopp is researching to detect drowsiness and lapses in real-time.

``Lapses can have serious consequences. Truck drivers, pilots, and air traffic controllers, for instance, have to stay alert for long periods of time and risk causing fatalities if they don't,’’ Knopp said today.

``It's not just transport that is affected but some process control workers and health professionals have to maintain attention on long monotonous tasks too.

``Lapses are when your performance on a task drops completely for between 0.5 and 15 seconds. They vary from micro-sleeps, where you essentially fall asleep for a moment, to sustained-attention lapses which can happen even when you're not drowsy, to diverted-attention lapses. This is where you just get distracted from the task at hand. Most people have these lapses and often aren't aware they're having them.’’

Knopp’s work is in developing a device to detect such lapses and alert a person before they have an accident. He said it could be difficult to reliably tell the difference between blinks and drowsy eye closure.

He is using multiple sensors to build up a thorough picture of the person's state. He is using a miniature camera to look at their eyes, and sensors to measure brain activity and head movement.

By combining all of the data together he is getting a better idea of whether someone is having a lapse and whether they're feeling drowsy.

``Some car manufacturers are introducing systems that attempt to monitor driver drowsiness. By using data from multiple sensors, though, our device should be able to respond more quickly and more accurately than something that just uses a camera on a car's dashboard.

``We hope that one day this device will become a standard piece of safety equipment to help prevent lapse-related accidents on the job.’’

He said a US study that put measurement instruments in 100 cars found that 20 percent of single vehicle accidents were drowsiness-related.

Scientists have come to the consensus that sleepiness is the largest preventable cause of accidents, surpassing that of alcohol or drug related accidents in all forms of transport, he said.

An Australian study of short-haul day-shift drivers found that 45 percent of drivers reported "nodding off" while driving in the previous 12 months.


© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Auckland Transport: Successful Bridge Repair Opens Two Additional Lanes To Traffic

The opening of two additional lanes on the Auckland Harbour Bridge this morning will help relieve some motorway congestion for motorists heading home to the North Shore tonight. More>>


Statistics New Zealand: COVID-19 Sees Record 12.2 Percent Fall In New Zealand’s Economy

Gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 12.2 percent in the June 2020 quarter, the largest quarterly fall recorded since the current series began in 1987, as the COVID-19 restrictions in place through the quarter impacted economic activity, Stats NZ said ... More>>


Climate: Scientists Release ‘Blueprint’ To Save Critical Ecosystems And Stabilize The Earth’s Climate

A group of scientists and experts produced the first comprehensive global-scale analysis of terrestrial areas essential for biodiversity and climate resilience, totaling 50.4% of the Earth's land. The report was published in Science Advances ... More>>


MPI: Independent Review Launched Into Assurances For Safe Transport Of Livestock By Sea

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has launched an independent review of the assurances it receives for the safe transport of livestock by sea. MPI Director-General Ray Smith says Mike Heron QC has been appointed to lead the review, which is expected ... More>>


Computers: New Zealand PC Market Grows Nearly 40% Due To Work From Home Demand

COVID-19 had large impacts on demand for PCs as businesses prepared for lockdowns by purchasing notebooks to mobilise their workforce. In the second quarter of 2020, New Zealand's Traditional PC market experienced a 39.7% year-on-year (YoY) growth ... More>>


University Of Auckland: Whale-Watching By Satellite – Follow Their Travels Online

Scientists have successfully attached satellite tracking tags to six New Zealand southern right whales, or tohorā, and are inviting the public to follow the whales’ travels online. Part of a major research project involving the University of Auckland ... More>>

Commerce Commission: Kiwibank Admits System Failures And Agrees To Pay Customers $5.2 Million

Kiwibank has entered into a settlement agreement with the Commerce Commission after reporting that it failed to have in place robust home loan variation disclosure policies, procedures and systems. In a settlement dated 27 August 2020, Kiwibank admitted that ... More>>

Ministry of Health: Public Transport Distancing Requirements Relaxed

Physical distancing requirements on public transport have been reviewed by the Ministry of Health to determine whether they are still required at Alert Level 2 (or below). The Ministry’s assessment is that mandatory face covering and individuals tracking ... More>>


NZHIA: New Zealand Hemp Industry Set To Generate $2 Billion Per Annum And Create 20,000 Jobs

A new report says a fully enabled hemp industry could generate $2 billion in income for New Zealand by 2030, while also creating thousands of new jobs. Written by industry strategist Dr Nick Marsh, the report has prompted calls from the New Zealand Hemp ... More>>


Stats NZ: One In 14 Employed People Report High Risk Of Losing Jobs

About one in 14 workers say they expect to lose their job or business by mid-2021, Stats NZ said today. A survey of employed people in the June 2020 quarter showed 7 percent felt there was a high or almost certain chance of losing their job or business ... More>>

ASB Quarterly Economic Forecast: NZ Economy Doing Better Than Expected, But Challenges Remain

August lockdown estimated to have shaved 8% off NZ’s weekly GDP, and 0.5% off annual GDP Economy now expected to shrink 5% (year-on-year) by end of 2020 Unemployment rate now expected to peak at 7.2% The latest ASB Quarterly Economic Forecast is less ... More>>