Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hey! You! Pay attention!

Most people have heard the term "dead man's switch" and know that it has to do with train locomotives, and maybe even know that there might be a pedal or a handle that the engineer had to push or manipulate or else the train will automatically stop. Anecdotally, if it's a pedal to be depressed, a brick would do, and you could go about your business :)

For my HCI class I show a brief clip from a History Channel documentary about locomotives. I recently found it on YouTube. You can see a modern "alerter" (instead of a dead man's pedal) and the engineer's explanation from 6:50 to 7:35 in the video.

The March/April 2011 Technology Review showed a "drowsiness detector" that works on the same principle but for automobiles.