Skip to Content

Dashboard Watchdog

September 1, 2006

Parents fretting about their teenage drivers have a technology weapon to look forward to: a dashboard-mounted fatigue monitor that can rouse someone who seems in danger of driving off the highway. About two-thirds of drowsy-driving crashes in the United States involve drivers between 16 and 29.

Last fall, Attention Technologies, a startup in Pittsburgh, PA, introduced a ­webcam-­sized drowsiness monitor for truck drivers, based on research at Carne­gie Mellon University. It shines invisible infrared light onto a driver’s retina and measures the reflection. If the reflection is blocked too often–indicating that the driver’s eyes are having trouble staying open–the device flashes and beeps.

Now the company is planning a mass-market version that could sell for less than $100 (compared with up to $1,500 for the current versions), thanks largely to the falling cost of digital camera components and signal-­processing chips. The company is also working on a new feature that tracks the driver’s gaze angle–indicating whether he or she is actually watching the road. “We think we’ll be able to get mothers to buy this for Johnny who’s going off to spring break for the first time, or for their road-warrior husbands,” says Richard Grace, the company’s founder and CEO. He anticipates bringing the cheaper version to market within two to five years.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Technology that lets us “speak” to our dead relatives has arrived. Are we ready?

Digital clones of the people we love could forever change how we grieve.

How to befriend a crow

I watched a bunch of crows on TikTok and now I'm trying to connect with some local birds.

Starlink signals can be reverse-engineered to work like GPS—whether SpaceX likes it or not

Elon said no thanks to using his mega-constellation for navigation. Researchers went ahead anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.