The Headrest of the Future

A car headrest gives you support and prevents injuries like whiplash. Soon, your headrest will do even more by reading your mind and keeping you awake. New technology from Freer Logic is changing how vehicle headrests function.

Sensing your state of mind

Freer Logic created a neurobiomonitor headrest that monitors your brain activity while you’re driving. It can sense fatigue, drowsiness, stress, cognitive load, distractions, and other activities in the brain. The headrest uses non-invasive electroencephalograph (EEG) technology to scan the brain and determine if you’re alert. If not, it can let you know it has detected drowsiness. The headrest can also sense a person’s emotions and can help stop road rage. Another important feature is the headrest’s ability to recognize cognitive load that occurs when you’re using a phone and distracted. The company is working with car manufacturers to integrate its alert system into a vehicle’s dashboard.

Hospitals and doctors frequently use EEG technology to monitor brain activity by placing electrodes on your scalp. Fortunately, Freer Logic’s headrest doesn’t require any electrodes or other tools to be attached to a person’s head. Although they won’t share the exact details of how it works, the headrest can pick up brain activity using propriety technology the company has created. It works when a person’s head is 6-10 inches from the headrest by picking up brain waves, magnifying and filtering them. Then it uses algorithms to determine what’s happening in the brain.

Founder Peter Freer is working with car companies to make the neurobiomonitor headrest a standard feature. He hopes it will be a normal part of vehicles by 2020. There’s a long vetting process before a car manufacturer would be willing to use this type of headrest, but Freer remains hopeful.

Welcome technology?

Freer Logic’s futuristic headrest is part of a global trend to monitor drivers more closely. From cameras to sensors, car manufacturers are trying to make vehicles safer and more personalized at the same time. The ability to detect drowsiness or distractions appeals to many drivers who want to stay safe on the road.

Drivers aren’t the only ones who want this tech. Car insurance companies are interested in monitoring drivers on the road to determine their risk factors. Several insurance companies already offer discounts to car owners who are willing to install tracking devices in their vehicles to monitor how safely they operate. Tracking a driver’s behavior on the road can lead to higher or lower insurance rates.

Imagine a car insurance company being able to track and monitor your brain waves while you drive. This could have an enormous impact on how much you pay for insurance. In addition, it raises important privacy and ethical concerns. For now, car-tracking devices from insurance companies are optional and not required for coverage. However, this may change in the future as the devices become smarter and brain-monitoring headrests are added.

Autonomous vehicles

Although futuristic headrests are an exciting development, there are some questions about their need if vehicles become autonomous. If you’re in a driverless car, monitoring your brain waves for drowsiness or distraction isn’t necessary because you’re not in control of the vehicle. Some possible uses of this tech in autonomous vehicles would be to help people relax or track their emotions for health reasons.

Freer Logic seems to be thinking ahead and wants to use its neurobiomonitor headrest in other places as well. For example, the headrest could be installed in office chairs to monitor workers or in casinos to track players. Again, privacy concerns are sure to come up, and users will have to decide if they’re comfortable with this technology. There’s the possibility that laws may have to be changed as this type of advanced tech becomes more common around the world.

SOURCES:

http://www.freerlogic.com/

http://www.freerlogic.com/solutions/neurobiomonitor-headrest-nbm

https://cars.usnews.com/cars-trucks/how-do-those-car-insurance-tracking-devices-work

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/05/new-kind-of-auto-insurance-can-be-cheaper-but-tracks-your-every-move.html

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-driver-monitor-insurance-app-perspec-0719-jm-20170718-story.html

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