CO2 / Alcohol Sensing

Drowsy drivers and children left behind

Cars are confined spaces dependent on a ventilation system that brings in the right amount of air to keep the driver alert. The same confined space can kill a child left behind when overheated.

Drowsy driver in mason jar
Drowsy drivers drive further
Chart of evolution of cabin CO2 concentration during full recirculation mode

Every mile counts... and a lot of drivers in very hot countries have found out that they can extend range by turning on the recycling in their car.

As air condition uses a lot of energy, why feed the system with new hot humid air? Well the problem is that a vehicle with 2 occupants, can reach 5000 ppm of CO2 in half an hour1! Tests have shown that our cognitive ability decreases2 already at levels from 1500-2400 ppm and we are sure you have experienced drowsiness when driving (which you encountered by opening the window). Late research also finds that levels of CO2 around 1500ppm start affecting our inflammasome3 system which leads to the conclusions that CO2 is not only a tracer but the actual problem in for instance "Sick Building Syndrome".

e-vehicles do not like to freeze
Mason jar with temperature range illustration

In cold countries a fossil fuel engine feeds the heating system with warm air from the combustion process, but e-vehicles suffer from cold batteries and active heating elements. Can you extend range by demand-controlled ventilation? Cold or hot, why exchange more air than necessary?

Subway passengers wearing masks
Our experience comes from 30 years of demand-controlled ventilation

If you have a commercial building, energy saving with remained good air quality is a goal. The secret is CO2 sensors that can control the flow and keep the CO2 level below 1000 ppm. Experience shows that you can cut the energy by half in certain applications.

Child left behind
Child hand on wet car window

Looking at the number of children dying in cars in the US is of course a very small portion compared to drunk driving accidents and other types of accidents. But that does not help the parents of the 54 children that died alone left in an overheated car (2018). The amount of pets that went the same horrible route are not even counted. With the same CO2 sensor that controls the air quality an alarm can set off when somebody is in the car. Actually, also giving away intruders.

Chart of CO2 concentration (ppm) over time in a Volvo when a child or dog is in the car

Our test shows how fast the CO2 rises in a Volvo when there is a child, a baby or a dog in the car.

Infrared sensor
Technology has been a limit to the car industry

Infrared sensors have always been equipped with an infrared bulb as an emitter. Bulbs do not like rough environments like vibration and big temperature spans. CO2 sensors have also been quite hungry for energy themselves.

Optical sensor
Optical Solid State technology

Senseair Sunrise is the new possibility and a special edition has been developed for the car industry. With high accuracy and low demand of energy (38μA) this sensor is perfect for smart climate control.
Sunrise Automotive is the sensor we will release at the end of 2019.
It will be AEC-Q100 Grade 3 approved

Optical sensor
The secret

Manufacturing sensors is all about consistency and calibration. Our factory is robotised and calibration before delivery assures that the sensors work properly within the temperatures and humidity's stated by the client. Well that could be stated by any OEM manufacturer. But our sensors never stop calibrating themselves. They keep calibrating every 8th day as long as they live. We call is ABC (Automatic Background Calibration), that is a logarithm that secures a long life and correct readings even after 15 years in the real world.

Child in car seat
Drowsy driver in mason jar Chart of evolution of cabin CO2 concentration during full recirculation mode Mason jar with temperature range illustration Subway passengers wearing masks Child hand on wet car window Chart of CO2 concentration (ppm) over time in a Volvo when a child or dog is in the car

Our test shows how fast the CO2 rises in a Volvo when there is a child, a baby or a dog in the car. Infrared sensor Optical sensor Optical sensor Factory Child in car seat

Invisible Alcohol Sensor

Imagine an alcohol sensor that works like an airbag.
It will become visible the day somebody makes a bad decision.

Machinery about to explode

In the best of worlds alcohol is only fun and relax. Unfortunately, the statistics show that bad judgment kills and injures the drunk driver as well as innocent people standing in their way. In US alone every 50th minute one person is killed in an alcohol related crash. The vision is to have a system without interaction that can stop a drunk driver before setting off.

Damaged bus
DADSS and Senseair

The DADSS research program brings together the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS), which represents the world's leading automakers, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Senseair is the (sole) provider of the development and research of an "invisible" breathalyzer built into the vehicles. Currently, our sensors available for the market checks the status of the driver by a light exhale towards the sensor inlet, the next generation will "sniff" without any interaction required.

The sensors are tested in the state of Virginia and are about to move into Maryland.

Computer chip
2 different paths

Our sensors are moving on 2 different timelines, one is driven by DADSS towards the car manufacturers seeking a monitoring systems that does not require any interaction from the driver. That paths leads to a technology available in a near future.

The other timeline is about providing the market of public transportation and commercial vehicles with a high tech solution that only requires an identification and a small exhale (no touch points). That path is a reality today in a testmarket. We are certain that the experience from DADSS test bench and Senseairs installations in the commercial fleet will benefit a successful implementation of sensors in private and commercial vehicles.

Senseair Safestart

This technology makes it superior to "old technology". The sensor works with NDIR technology, meaning we use an infrared ray to detect the amount of alcohol molecules in breath in comparison with CO2 detected in the same breath. This technology means you only need an easy exhale with no touching points, it also means that the sensor can be connected to the cloud and thereby be part of a fleet management system. Last but not least, the sensor needs no calibration.

Woman taking breathalyzer
Experience from a real installation

The product Safestart has been implemented commercially in 2012 as wall mounted units at the Swedish National railway system (SJ). All train drivers have "clocked in sober" 20 minutes before departure. The procedure being very simple, by scanning the RFID card and exhale at the unit the driver has checked in and traffic control knows that the train is ready to departure. 31 units have been monitoring drivers from north to south with no interference in traffic. In the beginning a few drivers where "caught" and had a chance to get rehab.

Girl taking breathalyzer while woman watches
Problems with existing technology

A few countries in the world demand alcohol screening in public transportation and Sweden is one of them. With the legislation in place the operators have to adapt to existing technology that takes time and effort to use.

The worst nightmare is when buses come into the depot and the service personnel have to blow through a plastic tube every time they start a vehicle, a procedure that takes about 30 seconds every time! The result being that hundreds of buses are left with engines idling in a crumpled area.

Bus depot Scan, exhale, start graphic
New technology – new possibilities

With Safestart the driver can check in on a stationery unit or on the bus. The test unit is in turn connected to the cloud and information is stored. The ID card/drivers license is connected to the test and the driver or service personal get a certain time slot that gives them access to the entire fleet. Let's read it again; after one test they can just scan their card and start a vehicle in seconds without more tests for the time approved by management (i.e. 4 hours).

Cost is a chock

Every fleet owner will ask for a business plan and our response is usually a big surprise. To make a long story short, a fleet of 150 buses saves about $200,000 USD a year! So far nobody has been able to challenge that.

Key fob scanner
Safety bonus

Senseair Safestart does not only check the driver's status but also that it is the right driver with the right competence that starts the bus, or it won't start.

Car dashboard Car dashboard
What's in it for vehicle manufacturers?

As of today, two truck and bus manufacturers understand the advantage and are starting to design the sensor into the dashboard to make it "invisible."

Machinery about to explode Damaged bus Computer chip Woman taking breathalyzer Girl taking breathalyzer while woman watches Bus depot Scan, exhale, start graphic Key fob scanner Car dashboard Car dashboard
For more information, visit the Senseair website.
1 Vehicle Cabin Air Quality with Fractional Air Recirculation
Michael L. Grady and Heejung Jung
Univ of California-Riverside
Yong chul Kim, June Kyu Park and Bock Cheol Lee
Hyundai Motor Company

Field Tests to Monitor Build-up of Carbon Dioxide in Vehicle Cabin with AC System Operating in Recirculation Mode for Improving Cabin IAQ and Safety
Gursaran D Mathur
2 Airplane pilot flight performance on 21 maneuvers in a flight simulator under varying carbon dioxide concentrations
Joseph G. Allen,
Piers MacNaughton,
Jose Guillermo Cedeno-Laurent,
Xiaodong Cao,
Skye Flanigan,
Jose Vallarino,
Francisco Rueda,
Deborah Donnelly-McLay &
John D. Spengler
3 Thom, S.R., Bhopale, V.M., Hu, J., Yang, M. Increased carbon dioxide levels stimulate neutrophils to produce microparticles and activate the nucleotide-binding-like receptor 3 inflammasome. Free Radic. Biol, Med. 2017; 106: 406-416. AND Thom, S.R., Bhopale, V.M., Hu, J., Yang, M. Inflammatory responses to acute elevations of carbon dioxide in mice. J. Appl. Physiol. 2017; 123: 297-302.