Samsung’s now-outdated Galaxy S4 smartphone came with a system that, for instance, stopped playing a YouTube video if it noticed you looking away from the screen, restarting it as soon as you glance back at the device. It also recognized your face and understood gestures to name but a few of the clever (and slightly useless) features it came with.
Now, as we know, smartphone tech does migrate into cars, although it’s usually lower grade and takes time to improve, so that’s why we are interested in Volvo’s announcement that it wants to reinvent the drowsiness detection systems, but we’re aware it could take a while for them to implement all of their ideas.
The plan is to add a lot more capability into them and, according to Per Landfors, the Volvo engineer in charge of the project, “this will enable the driver to rely a bit more on their car, and know that it will help them when needed.”
He explains that, “For example, the car's support systems can be activated later on if the driver is focused, and earlier if the driver’s attention is directed elsewhere." It can be made to work with all the other safety gizmos fitted to the car and, like car-to-car communication, can help predict some possible accidents and make corrections that the driver would not have had time to make (because he/she was looking away) or at least provide an even earlier warning than exterior sensors ever could.
It would all rely on one single sensor constantly monitoring the driver’s face and eye movement. The driver would be bathed in infrared light, courtesy of “small LEDs” mounted inside, and this would make the sensors very accurate.
Landfors explains that “this could be done by the sensor measuring different points on the face to identify the driver, for example. At the same time, however, it is essential to remember than the car doesn’t save any pictures and nor does it have a driver surveillance function.”
By Andrei Nedelea