Lucent scientists have filed a patent application for a digital video recorder (DVR) that will detect when the user has fallen asleep—and will then turn off the DVR. As it turns out, Robert Heinlein had thought about this forty-five years ago.
According to Lucent, "the sleep detector may comprise an electronic camera for forming images of the viewer, and pattern recognition means connected to the electronic camera to monitor the physical condition of the viewer. For example, the pattern recognition means determine whether the viewer?s eyes are open or shut."
Alternatively, the "sleep detector" may be a device wearable by the user to monitor their physical activity or physiological status. This wearable device could include one or more of the following: an accelerometer, a heat flux sensor, a galvanic skin response sensor, a skin temperature sensor and a near-body ambient temperature sensor.
In his 1961 novel Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein mentioned a similar device, used by people who read in bed. The pages of the book "spool" were projected on the ceiling —but what happened if the user fell asleep?
(This Science Fiction in the News story used with permission from Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction.)