The role of biometrics in future cars
When driving a car, your attention is divided between what’s happening outside the car and what’s happening within it. Today, there are more distractions than ever occurring within vehicles. In addition to passengers, temperature control, and radio, we now have cell phones, mp3 players, and GPS vying for our attention while we drive.
Many modern cars are now come “fully loaded” with hands-free calling, voice command, message notification, and touch screen interfaces, which are intended to make interaction with technology less distracting while driving. In reality, however, there are certain high-stress situations, like traffic congestion and intersection navigation which require a driver’s full attention, and these high tech features can become a dangerous disruption.
This is where in-vehicle biometrics will play a huge role in accident prevention in future vehicles. In fact, Ford Motors is already working on an “Intelligent Simplification” technology, which will use information about the driving and traffic conditions outside the vehicle, as well as the physiological state of the driver, to determine when the advanced features of its MyFord Touch system should be disabled.
The in-car biometrics could include heart rate, skin conductance (through sensors on the steering wheel), respiration, and temperature of the hands and face to determine “driver workload.” As we’ve discussed on Eye Tracking Update in the past, eye tracking or face tracking of some sort could also play a role in monitoring driver attention and alertness. Ford plans to combine information from all of these biometric sensors into a mathematical model that can be used to represent the reactions of the average driver to specific traffic scenarios.
As of right now, these potential biometric monitors and external environment sensors exist only in a proof-of-concept driving simulator, but it’s highly likely that we will be seeing features like this in not only future Ford vehicles, but other makers as well.
For more details on Ford’s project, check out Ford developing biometric systems to manage “driver workload”
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