2013 – 2014

This project was a collaboration with Plessey Semiconductors Ltd to develop a system that can measure a vehicle driver’s ECG using knitted sensors embedded into a car seat.  The auto-industry has heavily invested, over many years, to improve the safety of vehicles with the emphasis now moving towards accident prevention; all the major car and truck manufacturers are keen to adopt non-intrusive driver well-being systems.  The measurement of driver well-being for private, passenge,r and commercial vehicles for the prevention of “single vehicle accidents” due to driver fatigue or critical health failure has thus become significant.  The system developed by Plessey uses Heart Rate Variability (HRV) information determined from the driver’s ECG to detect the onset of drowsiness.

Plessey Semiconductors has developed a patented Electrical Potential Integrated Circuit (EPIC) Sensor which can measure electrophysiological signals without direct skin contact.  The ability of EPIC to measure ECG though insulating materials – such as clothing – in a moving vehicle had been demonstrated by the company prior to the commencement of this project.  This research sought to improve on this by using knitted electrodes, produced by the Advanced Textiles Research Group, in conjunction with the EPIC sensor, to improve both the quality and robustness of the ECG signal and the comfort of the system to the driver.

This research was funded by Innovate UK under project number 131607.