One of Northern Ireland’s largest ICT companies Fujitsu has launched a unique Internet of Things (IoT) enabled wearable device which aims to tackle the estimated 40% of commercial vehicle accidents in the UK which occur due to driver fatigue.

Fujitsu’s Driver Drowsiness Detector is a wearable sensor device that detects when drivers are drowsy. The device is worn round the neck with a small sensor clip attached to the driver’s earlobe which picks up pulse waves. The product which uses a proprietary algorithm developed by Fujitsu, monitors the driver’s pulse via the sensor and gauges drowsiness levels and notifies the driver if there is a risk of impairment to reaction times.   The device alerts the driver via vibrations on part of the device worn around the neck and can be linked to fleet-management systems so managers can monitor the conditions of their drivers in real time and provide support based on the data collected. The Driver Drowsiness Detector also includes a learning and calibration algorithm meaning an individual’s profile accuracy is improved through continued usage.

In GB, logistics company DHL is already testing the detector in a pilot scheme with 60 of its van and lorry drivers. Locally, Polar International Ltd, a haulage and logistics company based in Newry has 30 lorries travelling across the Ireland, UK and Europe, is one of the first NI companies to review the device.

Speaking about the wearable technology, Cormac McAvoy, Business Development Manager at Polar International Ltdsaid, “Polar International has an extensive fleet of state-of-the-art transport, employing more than 40 people locally. We take the welfare of our drivers very seriously which is why the instant road safety benefits from the Driver Drowsiness Detector is appealing. The data capture element allows you to analyse potential road routes and daily patterns that may contribute to driver drowsiness. Over the last decade, technology has transformed the transport, logistics and freight sector. From location tracking and lane departure equipment to dashcams and digital tachographs, embracing ICT and technology advancements is now part and parcel of safeguarding and advancing your business. Likewise, wearables technology such as the Fujitsu Driver Drowsiness Detector could soon become a firm fixture of the everyday workplace.”

Fujitsu NI’s Chief Technology Officer, Mark Maguire said, “With almost 6,000 licensed freight operators in NI – an increase of 180% since 2011 – and almost 110,000 commercial vans registered in Northern Ireland, our roads are the important arteries for many local businesses. This cutting-edge technology is a simple but very effective way to help protect drivers, pedestrians and other road users from the dangers of falling asleep at the wheel while providing businesses with a tool that can help them optimise their routes.”

Speaking about the benefits of technology, Pamela Dennison, National Officer at the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) added, “Digital advancements are changing the way we live, communicate and indeed how we travel from A to B and every business or organisation in Northern Ireland has already experienced and benefited from digital disruption to some degree.  In the logistics and transport sector for instance, we have capitalised upon innovations from satellite navigation and Bluetooth technology which have been quickly and easily adopted by businesses to help improve a variety of processes such as communication and navigation. Work related road safety in a digital age is an important area for the industry and it seems only natural that new technologies such as IoT enabled wearable devices are used as we all look to future proof our businesses.”

Fujitsu is currently embarking on a roadshow at local business, technology and sectoral events where companies can find out more about the Driver Drowsiness Detector and wearable devices.