Written by Connor Barnett
In 2007, Troels Palshof nearly lost his life soon after his newborn child was born.
Suffering from extreme fatigue, Palshof fell asleep at the wheel for a brief second and nearly crashed. Four years later, Palshof has come up with a product that serves as a miniature Dr. Dement for your car: The Anti Sleep Pilot (ASP)
Originally a device you install on your car, ASP Technologies released an app for the iPhone in mid-February (iPad app is expected soon). The app doesn't come super cheap ($19.99 for iPhone), but a simple cost benefit analysis, assuming you value your life, would tell you that this app is actually quite economical.
In addition to Palshof's own incident, the inspiration for the app comes from staggering Swedish research that illuminates the dangers of drowsy driving: 40% of single vehicle accidents and 20% of all accidents can be attributed to fatigue.
As we know from the Stanford Sleep Book, 20% of the workforce works night shifts. Many people don't have much of a choice, for economic reasons, when they are given these shifts, and almost all of these workers have to do some sort of commute to get to the job. We need ways to help ensure that these drivers are safe to drive, and ASP Technologies has done the world a huge favor by taking us one step closer. This technology is a significant breakthrough in reminding people that on the road, "Drowsiness is RED ALERT!"
If you aren't familiar with it yet, Drowsiness Is Red Alert! is a memory key-in phrase that can save your life on the road, and the mantra of our Stanford Sleep and Dreams class. When you start to feel drowsy while driving, let the phrase jump into your mind and remind you of just how many unsuspecting drivers have fallen asleep at the wheel. Let the danger you know to be present at that very moment fill your sleepy mind with alertness, and with the wisdom that it's not worth it to push on, that pulling over to take a nap or switch drivers is the safest thing to do.
The app takes into account 26 different factors in determining your fatigue levels. When you first purchase the app, you answer a series of questions (regarding you age, your BMI, when you work, why you drive, etc). When you get in the car, you can either tell the app how drowsy you are or do a short series of simple tests that will determine your drowsiness level.
Once you start driving, the app starts to become quite useful. It tracks route information by hacking Google Maps (shows you how long you have been driving, good places for you to stop when you are drowsy, etc.). It uses the iPhone's accelerometer to see if you are swerving at all or showing signs of drowsiness. It also requires you to press a button from time to time to ensure you are not drowsy (but how pressing a button on your iPhone while driving and being potentially drowsy doesn't add an element of danger, I do not know).
This app could radically reduce the amount of fatigue-related car accidents. However, even with the There are two fundamental problems I have with the app:
This might be an overgeneralization, but even so, this type of technology should be further developed and become standard in the software systems in all cars built from here on out. Making drivers more aware of the dangers of drowsiness on the road should be a top priority of innovative car manufacturers.
ASP Technologies has done an amazing job in realizing that drowsiness is red alert and helping to expose the dangers of drowsiness to the broader public. Though the app is not perfect, I believe their vision for safer driving through technology is realistic, practical, and ground breaking.
See the source of inspiration article at VentureBeat
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Welcome! This site is continuously being created by students of Dr. William C. Dement's Sleep And Dreams course at Stanford University.
We made this site as a call to action for people all over the world to live healthier, happier, safer, and more productive lives by learning about their own sleep. We have faith that reading the information provided on this site will motivate you to be smart about your sleep deprivation and strategic about your alertness in order to live life to your fullest, most energetic potential.
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Dr. Dement's pioneering textbook has been the core text for Sleep and Dreams since 1980, but it has just recently been made available to the wider public for the first time.
In it you'll find a more detailed account of the most important things you need to know about sleep, alertness, dreams, and sleep disorders. Studies, statistics, plus plenty of Dr. Dement's classic anecdotes painting the history of sleep medicine.
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