LED technology detects driver fatigue

1 min read

New infrared light-emitting diode (IR-LED) technology developed by Osram Opto Semiconductors aims to keep motorists alert when they’re driving.

The company, a Siemens subsidiary, says the sleep alert technology incorporates a camera and CMOS sensor that would be fitted in the driver’s field of vision.

Unbeknown to the driver, the sensor detects IR light at a wavelength of 850 nanometres, which isn’t visible to the human eye, and analyses the image of the driver that is captured by the camera.

Marion Reichl, a spokeswoman for Osram Opto Semiconductors, said the aim of the system is to detect how often the driver opens and closes his or her eyes.

Image analysis software determines if the driver is fatigued or distracted.

Reichl explained: ‘The system can decide when a driver is going into a dangerous area and then, depending on the manufacturer, do some acoustic or mechanical wake-up call such as a ring or buzz so the driver awakens.’

Osram Opto Semiconductors developed the SFH4236 type LED light source, which has a small integrated lens with 40° angle of illumination. This allows it to be installed in the dashboard of a vehicle, for example, and directly illuminate the driver from the front, without producing shadows.

Apart from sleep alert technology, Osram Opto Semiconductors stated its high-performance IR-LEDs could find other applications in motor vehicles, including night-vision systems, short-range surroundings detection and monitoring drivers’ blind spots.

The company said the IR-LED has a duration of tens of thousands of hours, meaning it will likely never have to be replaced during the average life of a vehicle. 

Reichl said the company is currently looking for customers to package the LED into a vehicle-ready system with commercial expectations as early as the end of 2011.