A British health technology firm claims to have come up with a unique way to cut car theft and potentially save lives.
B-Secur has spend 15 years developing heart rate monitoring systems and now believes the technology could be fitted to cars to help with everything from road safety and security to personalised driving experiences.
The claim is based on the way the firmâ€™s electrocardiogram (ECG) technology reads and interprets individual heartbeats.
Everybodyâ€™s cardiac rhythm is unique, meaning that ECG systems can identify a person simply through their heartbeat.
According to B-Securâ€™s CEO Alan Foreman, that means an ECG sensor fitted to a car could ensure it only opens and starts for selected people.
With rising numbers of owners falling victim to keyless thefts, the biometric security system could help thwart the latest criminal approach.
Under B-Securâ€™s proposals, sensors fitted to the car would be able to recognise a personâ€™s heartbeat as they approach and unlock it for the owner or anyone else â€œkeyedâ€ to the car while remained locked for anyone it didn’t recognise.
But Foreman says thereâ€™s also much wider potential.
He said: â€œWhile biometric security has been around for a while, the main benefit of using cardio-tech is in its dynamism: eyes, fingerprints and other body parts used to identify people are static and so can really only be used for security whereas because your heart is dynamic it can provide so much more information.
â€œThe potential benefits of this technology reach in to every single part of the driver experience, from basic car settings – for example, seat height and position – to in-car entertainment, security, safety and even vital signs monitoring and assessing; drowsiness, fatigue and stress.â€
Foreman says that being able to monitor a driverâ€™s health and alertness could have a serious impact on reducing crashes and casualties.
Euro NCAP estimates that 90 per cent of road accidents are caused by human error and a recent US study found that driver drowsiness resulted in 1,550 deaths a year.
B-Secur says by fitting its sensors to steering wheels it would enable cars to monitor a driverâ€™s heart rate variability and spot fatigue or drowsiness. This could indicate when they were drifting off and alert them or, in cars with suitable driver assistance systems, take action to stop the car.
Foreman added: â€œBecause your heart is a provider of such a wide variety of health information it can help in a huge variety of ways. Cardio-tech can also be embedded via software into existing hardware whereas other biometrics often require dedicated hardware.â€