Like the directive to buy low and sell high to make money in the stock market, the principle of keeping your eyes on the road to be safe when driving sounds simple but remains elusive. With countless distractions and our own tendency to drive while sleep deprived, many of us fail to give driving the full attention it deserves.
Fortunately, analytics technology offers a solution to alert drivers when their attention wanders.
Back in 2011, Eyetracking Inc. predicted that its technology would be incorporated in cars in a blog on the need to ascertain that a driver’s attention stays on driving. It proposed that “The Index of Cognitive Activity (ICA)” would be the most accurate means of answering the four indicators of a properly focused driver: 1) are your eyes are opened? 2) Are your eyes focused on the road? 3) Are you cognitively overwhelmed? and 4) Are you cognitively underwhelmed?
Such technology had already been applied by Australia-based Seeing Machines for industrial operations. Its Driver Safety System (DSS) has been adopted by truck fleet operators and mining companies to improve the safety of operators. “Smart sensing technology that saves lives” is the way SeeingMachines sums up its products, which are now coming to the consumer car market.
In September, the Financial Times reported [registration required], Seeing Machines, contracted with Takata in supplying tracking devices for half a million GM cars. Seeing Machines also partnered with Intel for the systems to be built into Jaguar Land Rover models. A prototype of that product was demonstrated at this year’s International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
According to the Jaguar Landrover press release, Seeing Machines’ Driver Monitor System was put into a Jaguar F-Type prototype on exhibit on the Intel stand. Its hardware is based on the Intel Core i7 chips. The system boasts of eye tracking accurate enough to discern what the driver is looking out in any light and is not obstructed by dark lenses.
As explained in an MIT Technology Review article, it works by integrating the analytics software with a camera within a vehicle for reads and analysis in real time. An infrared camera set in the vehicle’s dashboards picks up on the visual cues of the driver, taking particular note of head and eye movement with 60 images every second that are reviewed by the software as soon as they are captured. By tracking the eyes, the software can assess if the driver is paying attention to the traffic or losing focus due to distraction or drowsiness.
This “has huge potential for road safety,” said Wolfgang Ziebart, Jaguar Land Rover Engineering Director, in its press release. The camera will pick up the drivers looking at “the infotainment screen or out of a side window” when their eyes should be on the road, and the software alerts them to adjust their view. He said that kind of technology can prevent many accidents that result from momentary distraction.
With so many features for connectivity and entertainment currently vying for a driver’s attention, it’s good to know that technology can also be used to get one back on track and make driving safer.
Source: Jaguar Landrover