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Smart Car Seat Senses Driver's Physical And Mental State

LOS ANGELES ( – A new smart car seat can keep a driver calm by actively monitoring the commuter's physical and mental status, according to the maker.

"We've built a seat called Active Wellness. And what it does is allows us to understand something about your heart rate, your respiration rate, and then analyze that to really understand your stress level," said Matthew Benson, an advanced innovation manager at Faurecia, one of the world's largest automotive-equipment suppliers.

If you feel stressed, the Active Wellness seat uses a biometric sensing system to activate a massage function or a heating or cooling sensation. If you feel drowsy, it could let you know before you realize it yourself.

"The way your heart rate and your respiration rate change, we have some proprietary algorithms that we're developing that looks at those changes," Benson said.

Faurecia teamed up with NASA engineers, the Spine Research Institute at Ohio State University and researchers at Stanford University to help create the seat's embedded sensors that can collect vital signs without touching the skin.

While some drivers may be skeptical, Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Juan Emerick believes the seat is exactly what drivers need.

"I think it will be a great tool because a lot of those accidents happen from people falling asleep. The car seat somehow alerts them. It'll get them back on track and hopefully avoid an accident and save a life," Emerick said.

Benson said the seat is the first health-monitoring car seat, and it could hit the market and be available to customers in two to three years.

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