One of the reasons for vehicle crashes around the world is because of unexpected medical emergencies like heart attacks. Not only the driver, but the passengers inside are also in danger of death or serious injuries as well. This is why Japanese automotive manufacturer, Toyota has teamed up with researchers from the University of Michigan to research if advanced technology is capable to predicting–and hopefully preventing–these accidents from happening. They are now developing a heart monitoring technology for automobiles as a response to this problem.
“Essentially, they showed me that a large number of traffic incidents are caused by medical conditions while driving, specifically cardiovascular events, such as myocardial infarction and myocardial ischemia”, Kayvan Najarian, an associate professor at the University said. “The medical event interferes with the driver’s ability to safely drive and operate the car, causing the accident”.
Toyota’s ultimate, ambitious goal is to avoid such accidents altogether. Toyota, then gave Najarian and his research team a feasibility grant to research which types of computational systems are possible to be integrated into vehicles, so as to achieve their goal. Physiological patient monitors are also needed to be be combined with the computational system to be able to create a heart monitoring technology that can potentially detect heart attacks cardiac events while driving.
According to Najarian, the study took about seven months, and they identified the challenges, potential solutions, hardware options and algorithmic approaches that could be used. “But we concluded that cardiac events were conditions that are more feasible to detect with technology in the vehicle”, Najarian said
Najarian and his team explained the challenges they are facing in developing this new technology. “You can’t have clinical-grade monitoring devices in the vehicle. You need to use a high-quality monitoring device in the vehicle that, despite all the in-vehicle noise, could reliably register the driver’s ECG without being large and obtrusive. It’s going to have to be different than what you would expect to experience in a clinical or hospital setting”.
The team will be gathering physiological data from driver using heart monitors that are approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They will be using heart monitoring patches and stick them onto the chest of the driver so the researchers are able to analyze the physiological data in real time.
According to Najarian, the ultimate goad is to “come up with a system that would predict the occurrence of adverse cardiac events in real time”. The team will continue to develop the technology, and hope to report their result by 2020.
University of Michigan