Ever fallen asleep behind the wheel while you're driving? Yeah, it’s a scary thought – one that’s bound to happen to most people at one time or another. From blasting loud music to overdosing on coffee to chewing on chili peppers, different people have different solutions when trying to keep themselves awake on long drives. Steer offers a new alternative.
A wearable device, the rig straps down to your wrist and keeps constant tabs on your drowsiness level, allowing it to detect whenever you’re at risk of falling asleep behind the wheel. When it does, it attempts to bring you back to consciousness by sending an electric shock (yes, really), essentially becoming an alarm of sorts to ensure you’re suitably awake enough to drive at all times.
Steer uses an array of 16 sensors that measure a driver’s heart rate and skin conductance, similar to those used in polygraph machines. When initially switched on, the device will record your normal levels for those two conditions during the first minute, which it uses as the baseline to determine whether you’re getting dizzy, falling asleep, or functioning normally. After that, it will perform a check every two seconds, ensuring it will always detect when you’re starting to get dizzy just in time to send you a warning.
When the device detects a dip in your heart rate by at least 10 units, it takes that as an indication that you’re starting to get dizzy, which triggers the device to vibrate strongly while turning on a yellow LED light. If that doesn’t quite wake you up and your heart rate further slips while your skin conductance dips as well, it will then send a gentle electric shock to jolt you back into an awake state.
According to its creators, the gentle shock from Steer should increase your body’s serotonin, noradrenaline, and cortisol levels, all while decreasing its melatonin levels, immediately making you feel fresher and less drowsy, essentially waking you up. That means, you’ll never have to be wary of falling asleep at any time behind the wheel, since you have a veritable watchdog keeping an eye on you the whole time.
The actual device measures 2.6 x 1.6 x 0.4 inches, so it looks like an extremely oversized timepiece. Actually, it looks a bit like Sphero’s BB8 Wristband Controller, so it looks like you’ve got a toy strapped to your wrist while wearing the darn thing. Yes, it’s not the kind of thing you’ll want to wear regularly. Fortunately, you only really have to put it on whenever you’re driving, so the darn thing doesn’t have to ruin an erstwhile nice outfit.
A 500mAh battery sits inside the device, which, according to the creators, is enough to power it for around two weeks of driving. Do note, that endurance will likely be shorter for those who drive for professional reasons (e.g. cargo truck drivers), although the two weeks should hold up for most average individuals.
A Kickstarter campaign is currently running for Steer. You can reserve a unit for pledges starting at €109.