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Your Car Will Be Watching You!

Science fiction great Philip K. Dick is way ahead of us in his 1963 novel The Game Players of Titan; he knew that cars would someday keep a sharp eye on us mere humans:

It had been a bad night, and when he tried to drive home he had a terrible argument with his car.

"Mr. Garden, you are in no condition to drive. Please use the auto-auto mech and recline in the rear seat."

Pete Garden sat at the steering tiller and said as distinctly has he could manage, "Look, I can drive... Start, darn it!"

The auto-auto said "You have not inserted the key."

"Okay," he said, feeling humiliated. Maybe the car was right...
(Read more about Dick's alcohol-sensing system)

Affectiva is a small company that spun out of the MIT media lab ten years ago.


(Sensors inside the cabin of the car detect points on the body, infer movement,
and thus assess possible driver impairment. [AFFECTIVA]
)

There are already some basic driver-monitoring tools on the market. Most of these systems use a camera mounted on the steering wheel, tracking the driver's eye movements and blink rates to determine whether the person is impaired—perhaps distracted, drowsy, or drunk.

But the automotive industry has begun to realize that measuring impairment is more complicated than just making sure that the driver's eyes are on the road, and it requires a view beyond just the driver. These monitoring systems need to have insight into the state of the entire vehicle—and everyone in it—to have a full understanding of what's shaping the driver's behavior and how that behavior affects safety.

To truly tell whether a driver is impaired is a tricky task. You can't do that simply by tracking the driver's head position and eye-closure rate; you need to understand the larger context. This is where the need for interior sensing, and not only driver monitoring, comes into play.

Drivers could be diverting their eyes from the road, for example, for many reasons. They could be looking away from the road to check the speedometer, to answer a text message, or to check on a crying baby in the backseat. Each of these situations represents a different level of impairment.

(Via IEEE Spectrum)

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