Quebec start-up shines light on drowsy driving tech

    Today's Trucking

    Abdul Latheef

    MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – A Quebec-based startup believes it has established a tool to tackle drowsy driving during night shifts, using a dashboard-mounted system that exposes drivers to a modulating blue light.

    Chronophotonix’s Bluewake was developed by Prof. Marc Hebert of Laval University, who studies photobiology — the effects of light on the brain. He is also the director of the Cervo Brain Research Center at Laval, and founded Chronophotonix in 2007 in collaboration with the university.

    “Marc had developed a system that stimulates alertness, using blue light, which is duplicating natural phenomenon. The biological clock reacts naturally with the presence of blue light,” said Jacques Denommee, president and CEO of Chronophotonix. “We are modulating, artificially, blue light for truck drivers in order to stimulate the biological clock to make their brains believe it is daytime during nighttime.”

    A venture capitalist, Denommee said he got involved in the project in 2016 after the university approached him to see if the technology could be turned into a business.

    It took seven years of incubation for the technology to come to the market as a product, which has been available since February at $750 per unit. Currently some 200 devices are being tried out by six clients, and the company hopes to have 1,000 units deployed in Canada and the U.S. by June 2020, Denommee said.