The neuroscientist behind Nintendo's hit "brain-training" games is joining forces with Toyota Motor Corp to develop a car to keep elderly drivers alert to prevent accidents, he said yesterday.
A research team from the Tohoku University will begin a study with Toyota in the aim of putting the car into practical use between 2015 and 2020, said Professor Ryuta Kawashima of the university's Institute of Development, Aging and Cancer.
The vehicle would be mounted with devices to "watch the driver's brain activity, automatic nerve reflexes, attentiveness and other mental and physical conditions," Kawashima said.
If the devices detect signs of slackening concentration, they would alert the driver to possible dangers through alarm sounds and other means, including the use of air conditioning to invigorate the driver's brain.
Kawashima chairs the university's newly launched study group for "mobility and smart aging," which also embraces engineering and other experts.
He said Japan's third-biggest carmaker Nissan Motor Co had also approached him for a study on vehicles for senior drivers, although no decision had been taken on any collaboration.
Almost a quarter of Japan's total population is aged 65 or older.
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