Here in Las Vegas, 2018 certainly feels like the year of the eyes. Eye-tracking and eye (or facial) recognition that is. Having quickly got used to having our eyes tracked and faces identified (thanks Samsung and Apple), several tech companies, many suppliers and numerous car concepts here incorporate the technology.
This year’s latest Chinese start-up, Byton, has gone big on the technology. The doors open via facial recognition, with a set of cameras mounted in the B-pillar. The car is then allowed to start, via the use of iris-scanning – a technology we also saw on supplier Gentex’s stand.
Why the two-step approach? Well, you might want to let someone (a delivery person, your child) into the car, but definitely not let them start it up and drive off.
Eye tracking, of course, is already a feature of some high-end vehicles, used to judge whether the driver is about to doze off, but suppliers are using the latest eye-tracking and facial recognition tech to take things further.
Panasonic, most notably, showed a demo in its private automotive suite of a fully biometric cockpit, with a facial recognition system designed not just so that it can judge that you’re about to nod off, but based on your expression (and thus mood) it can actively predict whether you might be in about 15 minutes’ time.
The technology raises numerous questions. The Panasonic system showed an interesting feedback avatar, giving the driver a real-time analysis of their mood and predictive state of drowsiness.
But would such deep insight into a person’s state of mind be happily accepted, and responded to, by drivers? And who owns the data captured about just what mood you’re in at a given time of day, place, or road event?
One of the bigger questions for designers is how to integrate the cameras and sensors required within the IP, or cluster zone.
Again, Panasonic showed one interesting solution – a next gen HUD – which includes an infra-red system that tracks your eyes, negating the need to integrate both HUD unit and the sensors to detect drowsiness/attention, in a part of the car where packaging space is at a premium.