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Intel explores brain scanning to make roads safer

Martyn Williams | June 26, 2013
Researchers at Intel are hoping a little insight into the way drivers think as they hurtle down the highway can be harnessed to make roads safer.

"We're leading with cars because it's a well-controlled area that we can do some laboratory research around," said Crawford. "A lot of us get paid to work with our brains, and we want it to be as efficient as possible, so there's all sorts of enterprise-level applications of this, and some consumer-level applications."

At the San Francisco event, Intel also showed a second research project that could help cut road accidents.

That work, being done with the National Taiwan University, seeks to provide vehicle-to-vehicle communications using something already found on many vehicles: LED brake lights.

The researchers are using a laptop computer to modulate the light from the rear lights so it can carry data about the state of the vehicle.

Intel's demonstration used a pair of scooters, which are ubiquitous on the streets of Taiwan. The rear LED light of the front scooter carried an alert each time the brakes were applied or the turn indicators were switched on or off. In motion, the system can also transmit the current speed of the scooter.

A rider on a rear scooter would see an alert on his or her dashboard when the scooter in front is slowing down, speeding up, turning or stopping. In the demo, the modulated light signals were received by a camera mounted on the front of the bike and were displayed via a phone app.

The idea, said Hao Min Lin, a Ph.D. student at the National Taiwan University and one of the team working on the project, is that the extra information would give riders a fraction of a second more time to react. By knowing the scooter in front is slowing, for example, riders would be able to begin adjusting their speed before the brake lights come on.

 

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