Sound Mind

Brazilian divisions of Ford and the GTB agency create a potentially life-saving cap for truckers.
Sensors in the SafeCap detect if a driver’s head moves in a way not associated with normal driving then triggers sound, light, and vibration alarms.

Truck drivers in Brazil are testing a potentially life-saving product called SafeCap, thanks to a collaboration between the Brazilian offices of Dearborn’s GTB agency and Ford Motor Co.

Given heavy-duty truck-driving is one of the most dangerous professions in Brazil, and falling asleep at the wheel is one of the leading causes of accidents among truck drivers in the South American nation, the novel cap vibrates, makes noises, and flashes bill-mounted LED lights when it senses the wearer is dozing off.

“We believe the SafeCap is a human ingenuity innovation with a great potential to protect drivers and to save lives around the world in the very near future,” says Oswaldo Ramos, head of sales, marketing, and service for Ford in Brazil, where it has multiple operations.

Vico Benevides, executive creative director of GTB Brazil, adds that the SafeCap is an “example of a smart solution to a real problem made possible through creativity, technology, and a focus on putting people at the center of design.”

Kevin Karolak, the Dearborn-based chief marketing officer for GTB, says the cap was designed using existing technologies from a few vendor partners. “It was a universal human problem that GTB and Ford tried to tackle and solve,” he says.

According to Clare Meridew, GTB’s North American chief creative officer, the cap was developed using a gyrometer — something that’s also used in smartphones to sense movement. The sensors can detect a driver’s head movements not normally associated with driving, such as nodding up and down rather than looking from side to side. When nodding movements are sensed, a vibrator pulsates, a noise is emitted, and the LED lights blink.

“The (question) was, How can we help truckers stay awake or help them to understand that they’re starting to fall asleep?” Meridew says. “Sometimes they don’t even realize they’re dozing off.”

Approximately 100 SafeCaps are being tested as part of a yearlong, more than 3,100-mile trial. Results of the testing will be released next year.

SafeCap also attracted the attention of Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, which included the invention in its Wired to Wear exhibit that opened in March and runs through May 2020. Wired to Wear, the first exhibition dedicated to wearable technology, features more than 100 innovations from around the world. The 8,000-square-foot exhibit showcases how digital advancements in wearable technology are enhancing lives.