Driving is so often a highly charged and emotional affair. Even the mildest-mannered people can turn into aggressive monsters when put behind a steering wheel. At TechCrunch Disrupt’s Hackathon today we saw a fun but interesting approach to cooling down hot-heads using wearable tech and music.
Erik Erwitt, a developer and consultant, pitched Falling Down, a wearable monitor that tracks a driver’s heart rate in order to work out when they are stressing out — higher than usual — or falling sleeping — lower than usual.
The system also uses vehicle data. When it detects a driver’s heart rate is moving to one extreme and a car is in motion, Falling Down uses Bluetooth to crank out music via the driver’s smartphone.
Erwitt tested the app in an on-stage demo — he told us that his heart was genuinely racing — using some music to provide a little chill and relax him. Most people don’t get to pitch a hack on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt, but the principles could apply to drivers who get angry. The sounds of Bob Marley, for example, could help you clear the red mist before you go all aggressive and do something stupid.
Equally, while a rising heart rate hints at stress and anger, a heart rate that is falling could indicate that a driver is drifting off to sleep. In this case, Falling Down can play something loud or energetic to wake up the driver to prevent a nasty accident.
His demo used Spotify on an Android device, but it can be configured to run any kind of music app, and can work on iOS, too.
Erwitt called Falling Down “a fun and easy hack,” but it does aim to help a serious problem. He told TechCrunch that he plans to clean up the code and make it available on GitHub for those who want to use it or develop it further.
“Hopefully it will inspire someone to connect an Android Wear device to the Ford SYNC to monitor people’s heart rate. An important factor to look at is searching for atrial fibrillation in drivers which could be a precursor to heart attack,” Erwitt added.