A new fatigue-sensing steering wheel device tracks a driver's grip to alert them to wake up and pull over if they are drowsy.
The technology is based on the fact that when people drive and are reasonably alert, they are constantly applying pressure to the wheel and/or moving their hands along it.
If someone should fall asleep, have a heart attack or otherwise lose consciousness, that pressure will lessen and their hands will move less.
The device consists of a thin strip that is applied to the inside rim of a steering wheel, beneath the covering, 'Gizmag' reported.
The strip is made up of thin layers of foil, which have a weak electrical current running through them.
When pressure is applied and causes the layers to touch one another, it creates a short circuit between those layers.
A microprocessor keeps track of the intensity, frequency and location of those shorts, and uses it to establish a typical driving pattern for the user, according to the company Hoffman and Krippner, which developed the device.
When they deviate from it significantly, the car will then alert them to wake up and pull over.