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Coventry University grad wins award for biometric steering wheel


A Coventry University graduate has won the Autocar-Courland Next Generation Award for a new steering wheel which can monitor the driver’s health and even detect alcohol in their system, according to a report by Motortorque.

Nicole Agba designed the biometric Steer Right wheel, which uses a “smart fabric” interactive textile with a range of tiny sensors embedded around the wheel. Each sensor monitors various biological indicators such as pulse, breathing rate and sweat.

The wheel is able to detect when a driver has a health issue, is inebriated, or is angry, tired or nervous, said Agba.

The Steer Right wheel measures the chemical composition of the driver’s sweat as a way to detect traces of alcohol.

If the system does happen to detect alcohol in the driver’s sweat, it will immediately shut down the engine to ultimately prevent an accident.

Some critics have pointed out that intoxicated drivers could evade detection by wearing gloves while driving, but Agba said the system is designed to prevent individuals from driving when they do not even realize they are still under the influence.

“Once again we have been bowled over by the calibre of the entries received for this year’s competition, making Nicole an all the more deserved winner,” said Steve Cropley, editor in chief of Autocar and judging panel chairman. “This award was set up with the hope of finding and nurturing bright new talent and it has now touched thousands of people. I’d like to think that, from next year, we can expand on what the award does and open it up to more people still, but how we do that has not yet been decided.”

Launched in 2009 by Autocar in partnership with Courland International and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, the award includes a five-month work experience tour with Jaguar Land Rover, McLaren Automotive, Peugeot, Skoda and Toyota, as well as a £7,500 cash prize.

“I’m ecstatic to have won. It’s such a unique experience; I’m so pleased to have had the opportunity to be a part of it,” said Agba. “Not only am I thrilled to be the first female recipient of the award, I hope my success inspires others who might ever have been told they cannot do something to look at my example and not be afraid to chase their dreams.”

Previously reported, TruTouch Technologies recently raised $5.2 million in debt from various investors to recruit more customers for a biometric device that shines light through the skin to rapidly detect blood-alcohol level and confirm an individual’s identity in the workplace.

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