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BUSINESS LIFE Life-saving wake-up call. By CLIVE COOKSON 227 words 30 March 2006 Financial Times London Ed1 Page 13 English (c) 2006 The Financial Times Limited. All rights reserved A truck is hurtling along a straight, flat highway across the Australian outback. The driver, bored and sleep-starved, is getting drowsy. Is a crash imminent? No. Before the driver drifts off, an urgent beeping sound alerts him. He pulls off the road as soon as he safely can, drinks some strong coffee from his Thermos flask and takes a restorative 15-minute nap before the caffeine kicks in. The sound comes from Optalert, a device invented by Murray Johns, a Melbourne-based sleep scientist, which is undergoing trials with two road and two rail transport operators in Australia. Dr Johns has set up a company, Sleep Diagnostics, to commercialise what he says is the world's first drowsiness alert system. Optalert driving glasses emit and detect low levels of infra-red light, to sense movements in the eyes and eyelids. These are fed to a small computer that emits an audible warning as soon as the movements show that the driver is becoming drowsy. Dr Johns, who hopes to license the technology worldwide, says it could make a significant impact on the 20 to 30 per cent of road accidents in which driver sleepiness is a significant factor. It will be used initially by truckers but could be adapted later for the consumer market. 20060330L113.011 Document FTFT000020060330e23u0002m


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