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EMEA: Steering smarter in the connected car

Hoffmann-Krippner is working with Guttersberg Consulting to bring its SensoFoil sensing technology to the connected car market. The technology is designed to allow the driver’s touch on the steering wheel to be “sensed” and ultimately alert the driver and/or the vehicle itself to take corrective action if an unwarranted change in pressure is identified.

During the normal course of driving, the pressure on the steering wheel changes and the driver’s hands are constantly moving. SensoFoil allows the tracking of this pressure in order to identify potentially dangerous changes that could imply the driver is falling asleep or has had some type of medical event where their hands are no longer on the steering wheel. The technology consists of a basic membrane with potentiometer resistance track.

Once a possible problem is identified by the smart steering wheel, the car could potentially attempt to wake the driver or navigate the vehicle to a safe off-road position while notifying emergency responders. In the future, with autonomous driving, it could even be envisioned that the vehicle could drive the individual to the closest emergency facility while calling ahead that a medical emergency is en route.

According to information provided in the press statement, traffic experts claim that about 25% of all accidents are caused by extreme fatigue while driving. That makes nodding off or “micro-sleep” along with heart attacks the leading causes of accidents; exceeding the number of accidents caused by alcohol and drugs. These statistics were quite surprising to me and it seems that the industry should be making this challenge a higher priority along with that of not “driving while under the influence.”

“Pressure Sensing SensoFoil cost-effectively provides extra features and capabilities to a diverse range of products,” said Jens Kautzor, CEO of Hoffman + Krippner. “In addition, this sensing technology requires very little external energy since power consumption is very low. The sensor system is insensitive to electromagnetic radiation and therefore ideal for the automotive, aerospace and medical sectors.”

The product is currently in test drives with the information being shared with automotive OEMs. Although the form factor within the vehicle does not change, the vehicle would need to be programmed to react to the data gathered from the sensing technology. Of course this raises the privacy issue as to whether or not drivers need to “opt in” to this type of functionality, since it is essentially allowing control of the vehicle to be taken and a location sent to emergency responders. Interesting technology that could save many lives and it will be interesting to see this come to market.

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Claudia Bacco, Managing Director – EMEA for RCR Wireless News, has spent her entire career in telecom, IT and security. Having experience as an operator, software and hardware vendor and as a well-known industry analyst, she has many opinions on the market. She’ll be sharing those opinions along with ongoing trend analysis for RCR Wireless News.

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