Feeds

Vibrating buttocks key to driver alertness

Tactile warnings cut crashes

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

You can blame the French for this one: the next time you buy a car it may well be packed with buttock-vibrating technology designed to keep you alert and thus reduce "common type of car accident by up to 15 per cent", the Telegraph reports.

The prang in question is rear-ending - accounting for a quarter of all accidents - and caused predominantly by pure lack of attention, which is reckoned to be the cause of a half of all road accidents. Accordingly, one Citroen model "already vibrates the trousers of drivers to warn them when they cross a lane too slowly, which suggests that they are falling asleep".

And if having your rear end agitated in order to avoid violating the guy in front's rear end isn't enough of an affront to civilised society, Oxford uni's Dr Charles Spence has been telling the British Association's annual shindig in Dublin of other ways that car manufacturers are looking to keep drivers on the case.

Spence says the industry is - despite "ever-more sophisticated sensors to warn of an impending accident" - unwilling to let computers carry out crash avoidance "because of legal reasons, for fear of being sued".

The solution, then, is to find ways of gently nudging the driver. These include the aforementioned use of touch, plus odours like peppermint to keep you perky and the preposterously-named "auditory earcon". The latter can include, for example, "linking the sound of a car horn to a location" which, according to a study coming soon to the Journal of Experimental Psychology, "encourages drivers to look towards a source of danger".

No, we have absolutely no idea what that's all about, either.

As regards vibrating car owners into consciousness, the Transport Research Laboratory in Berkshire has been conducting tests, the results of which will shortly be entertaining readers of Transport Research Methods.

The upshot of the TRL's study is that "a 200 millisecond improvement can be achieved in reaction time" and "an improvement of driver responses of about 500ms would reduce rear-end crashes by as much as 60 per cent".

So, there is some method to all this buttock-shaking madness. For his part, Dr Spence is examining the possibility of vibrating other bits of the vehicle, including the seat belt, pedals and steering wheel. Spence says that one Japanese manufacturers claims all cars will be fitted with tactile warning systems by 2010, so don't say we didn't warn you. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Motorist 'thought car had caught fire' as Adele track came on stereo
'FIRE' caption on dashboard prompts dunderheaded hard shoulder halt
Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery
Burrito meets soft taco in alleged rooftop romp outrage
Japanese artist cuffed for disseminating 3D ladyparts files
Printable genitalia fall foul of 'obscene material' laws
Carlos: Slim your working week to just three days of toil
'Midas World' vision suggests you retire later, watch more tellie and buy more stuff
Brit Rockall adventurer poised to quit islet
Occupation records broken, champagne corks popped
Accused! Yahoo! exec! SUES! her! accuser!, says! sex! harassment! never! happened!
Allegations were for 'financial gain', countersuit claims
Yahoo! Japan! launches! service! for! the! dead!
If you're reading this email, I am no longer alive
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.