An Electronics Weekly report details the features of a smart steering wheel from German manufacturer Hoffman + Krippner designed to prevent drowsy driving.

According to the company, SensoFoil membrane potentiometers are used as voltage dividers and consist of several layers, which are separated by a spacer. The layers are connected to each other through mechanical or magnetic pressure, the pressure sensitive ink creating resistance between the thin layers of plastic.

One possibly life-saving use identified for the technology is to design in or retrofit it to car steering wheels to detect how tightly the wheel is being gripped, in order to identify when a driver’s concentration is slipping.

Drivers grip the wheel or move their hands across it all the time, and the system detects an absence of such movements, which could suggest the driver has fallen asleep or become ill. In response to such changes an alert is triggered to restore concentration or prompt the driver to take a rest.