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Motion Sickness Alert

How nauseating is that car ride? Sensors could warn motorists that their driving is making people queasy.

Sufferers of car sickness could get help from a device that plugs into a car’s cigarette lighter and alerts the driver that passengers will be ill unless his or her driving improves. “Drivers rarely feel sick, so they blame it on their passengers-who are often children-because they are more susceptible,” says inventor Jelte Bos of TNO, a Dutch organization for applied scientific research, in Soesterberg, the Netherlands. But, Bos says, “It’s largely due to driving style.” His prototype car sickness indicator contains three accelerometers to sense motion along three axes and a microchip to calculate how nauseating the car’s motions are. An LCD screen on the prototype shows the percentage of people who’d feel ill if exposed to a given driving performance, but this would be replaced on production versions by colored LEDs like the lights of traffic signals. A red light, for example, could indicate that a passenger is likely to soon become ill. Bos is showing the patented invention to auto engineers and hopes it will become standard on car dashboards. Sensitive children-and parents who clean up after them-would be grateful.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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