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Tech Watch: Fabric That Feels You

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The fabric sensors are coming, and with $10-million in series A venture funding from San Francisco-based Bullpen Capital, BeBop Sensors (bebopsensors.com) wants to be among the first of the sensor companies in that space to arrive. Its primary automotive destination: Your car seat and possibly your kid’s car seat. 

BeBop makes sensors for automotive occupant classification systems (OCS), which estimate the weight of passengers to deploy an airbag accordingly. BeBop says its smart fabric, which measures about 1-mm thick, continuously monitors seat pressure imaging, providing real-time data used to gauge all physical contact between the passenger and the seat. In tune with computer vision software, the sensor understands occupant position and all movements, including leaning forward, left, or right, crossing legs, and detecting the rigid bottom of a child booster seat—in addition to calculating size and weight. 

“Anyone trying to determine a person’s position, size and seating attitude using only weight is making a faster horse,” Keith McMillen, BeBop founder and CEO notes on the company’s website. “That technology is now obsolete. You can tell more about a person through a picture than a scale.”
 

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