"The Heart of the Matter"

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Week: 564.4 Guest: Dr. Neil Gershenfeld, Media Lab, MIT, Cambridge, MA Topic: Developing a Smart Airbag Producer/Host: Steve Girard

NEMA: A smart airbag...coming up...

SPOT: For 15 years, the National Emergency Medicine Association has worked against stroke, heart disease and trauma. Join the effort, call 800-332-6362.

NEMA: A smart airbag is on the way from MIT and the NEC electronics corporation...a sensor array, which began as an electrical fields experiment with cellist YoYo Ma and magicians Penn & Teller, can 'see' a front seat passenger in 3 D...MIT Media Lab's Neil Gershenfeld...

GERSHENFELD: It has to recognize if it's an adult sitting forward, in which case firing the airbag saves the adult's life...an infant in a seat facing forward, in which case firing the airbag saves the infant's life...an infant in a seat facing reverse, in which case firing the airbag can kill the baby....an out of position, or small adult, in which firing the airbag can cause injury...and finally, if there's just a bag of groceries on the seat, firing the airbag would waste a thousand dollars.

NEMA: And the technology worked like a charm....

GERSHENFELD: It really did work better than anything the industry had seen. Since then, we've been working very closely with NEC... which has now announced a product, and is working with the car companies to get it in.

NEMA: And the Highway Traffic and Safety Administration is taking more seriously the possibilities of the smart airbag. I'm Steve Girard at The Heart of The Matter.


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