Some higher-end cars are now equipped with systems that use sensors such as built-in cameras to detect if the driver is getting drowsy. While that's great if you own one of those vehicles, what happens if you drive something older or cheaper? Well, researchers at Hong Kong Baptist University have developed a smartphone-based system that reportedly does the job.

Developed by a team led by Prof. Cheung Yiu-ming, the system requires users to mount their phone on the dash, so its front camera can monitor their face as they drive.

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Software then looks for telltale changes in their eyelids (such as drooping) and head position (such as lolling), which indicate that they're getting tired. When such signals are detected, it sounds an alarm to alert the driver. That alarm won't cease until the driver deactivates it either by hand or via a voice command.

According to Cheung, the technology requires no peripheral hardware other than the phone itself, plus it's highly accurate, inexpensive, simple to use, supports online software updates, and it can be transferred between different vehicles.

The research team has applied for a US patent for the system, which could presumably either take the form of an app, or a program that's integrated into phones in the factory.

Scientists at Dartmouth University have created a similar system, known as CarSafe.

Source: Hong Kong Baptist University