New smartphone app can warn sleepy drivers

Researchers at Hong Kong Baptist University have developed a smartphone app that can detect drowsy drivers and alert them.

While the new system is suitable for all drivers and can help reduce accidents caused by fatigue driving, machinery workers who have long working hours may also find it handy, according to the researchers.

The new approach adopts a smartphone’s real-time video to track and analyse the facial features of a driver, in particular the changes in his eyelids and head position, which are prominent fatigue symptoms.

With this system pre-installed in a generic smartphone, a driver just has to put it near the steering wheel with the front camera facing him in his normal driving position.

When the camera captures features like drooping eyelids, drowsiness or even nodding off, an alarm is automatically set off.

To ensure that the driver is awakened, the driver has to turn off the alarm either by voice or by hand.

This method requires only a smartphone without any additional devices or sensors, Professor Cheung Yiu-ming said in a statement released by the Hong Kong Baptist University.

As the system can activate the rear camera of the smartphone, it can also be utilised as a normal driving recording system, the researchers said.