Heart and respiration in-car embedded nonintrusive sensors (HARKEN)

This project aims to create a system of non-invasive sensors to measure cardiac and breathing activity with smart materials embedded into the fabric of vehicle seats and seatbelts.


Traffic accidents are a significant safety problem in developed countries, and fatigue is a critical factor. On-board fatigue detectors can reduce this problem and save thousands of lives a year, thereby also reducing healthcare costs by billions of euros. For this reason, car component manufacturers work to achieve good solutions to detect fatigue. However, current approaches are limited because they cannot measure invaluable physiological information about the driver, which is crucial to assess their current state.

This project brings together a consortium of small and medium-sized enterprises that produce vehicle components (textiles for seats by BORGSTENA, seatbelts by ALATEX, smart textiles by SENSINGTEX and biosensors by PLUX), which will create a product to meet demand. They will combine their experience to create a system of non-invasive sensors to measure heart activity and breathing, while eliminating noise and elements that can distort such signals in a running vehicle. It will also calculate the relevant parameters necessary to detect fatigue.

To achieve this aim, research will be done to develop new materials with embedded sensors, and a signal processing unit will be created to screen the data. This research will be carried out by technological centers and universities such as Eesti Innovatsiooni Instituut and the University of Manchester.

The project will provide companies with new hi-tech products that will help them improve their position in the automotive sector with a new device that will enable them to create reliable fatigue detectors.

Collaborating companies




Borgstena Group Portugal LDA


Sensingtex S.L

Plux Wireless Biosignal S.A

Alatex GmbH Narrow Webbing

Ficomirror S.A

University of Manchester

Osauhing Eesti Innovatsioni Istituut

Instituto de Biomecánica (IBV)

Duration and reference no.

Start date: 01-06-2012
End date: 30-05-2014
Project reference no.: FP7-SME-2011-286265

VII Prog Marcobandera

Project funded by the European Union through the 7th Framework Programme within the Capacities Programme. Research to benefit SMEs