FIA Deputy Medical Delegate Dr. Ian Roberts and F1 Medical Car Driver Alan van der Merwe developed the sensors because current monitoring technology is big and bulky and can’t be used until the driver is in the same place as the equipment. They’d like to be able to get data sooner, especially in cases where a driver might be stuck in a car and they can’t reach him or her.
One challenge was meeting the fire safety requirements of the FIA; another was making the sensor comfortable for the drivers.
Initially, the sensors will provide pulse oximetry (how much oxygen is in the blood) and pulse rate. Oxygen content goes down when you have an injury that affects breathing. The sensor is self-powered and can send information over a 500-meter radius. (The data will be encrypted and secure.)
This sensor has potential for applications in not only racing, but other harsh environments (perhaps the military or emergency response.)
For more information, see the FIA’s press release