Swedish Company’s Drowsy Driving Detection System
A new system designed to detect drowsy drivers is expected to be in cars within five years, according to a report yesterday in VentureBeat — or perhaps in as little as two years, according to an executive from the company that created it. The auto safety system, developed by the Swedish eye-tracking company Tobii, works with the help of two sensors that are placed at different angles and that operate at near-infrared frequencies to eliminate any interference from external light. This auto technology works even when a driver is wearing glasses or sunglasses, and in a great variety of lighting conditions.
As Ciara Byrne writes in VentureBeat:
Distraction is detected by registering the direction of the driver’s attention using head pose algorithms and eye tracking. Eye openness and blink characteristics such as blink speed and blink duration, and the ratio between them, indicate whether the driver is sleepy. Tobii claims that its current system can detect distraction in 95 percent of cases and that it expects to achieve 99 percent accuracy by the time the system is on the market. Rival driver assistance technologies use steering wheel input, lane departure sensors or brake assist control based on an individual’s driving pattern to draw conclusions about distraction and sleepiness.
Tobii’s platform covers detection only. It does not inform drivers about their level of sleepiness or distraction. It would be up to car manufacturers to integrate Tobii into an existing safety system or provide a sound or a visual alert on the dashboard of the vehicle.
VentureBeat‘s Ciara Byrne reported last February that another Swedish company, ASP Technology, launched an application for iPhones and iPads to help prevent fatigue-related car accidents. That system calculates a driver’s drowsiness level in real-time, maintains his or her alertness via reaction tests, and alerts the driver when he or she needs to take a rest break. The mobile app is much like a hardware device that ASP Technology also created to fit into a car’s dashboard and that was made available last year.
In a press release on Business Wire, Henrik Eskilsson, chief executive officer of Tobii Technology, says, “Eyes are the best gauge of a person’s level of attention to the road, and our technology is unparalleled in the recognition of this critical driver condition.” And Nicolas Pezzarossa, general manager of Tobii Technology Germany, says, “With the right automotive partner, we believe we can put this lifesaving technology into the hands of consumers in a couple of years.” Drowsy-driving accidents account for an estimated 25% of all fatal accidents, out of 41,000 fatalities per year in the U.S. alone, according to the press release.
Tobii envisions other uses for this technology as well, including:
• Eye control of the in-vehicle infotainment system to allow users to interact with the system simply through the movement of their eyes.
• Using eye recognition, the vehicle will recognize individual drivers upon their entrance into the vehicle and will automatically activate personal driver settings.
• Instruments that the driver is not looking at or using will be automatically dimmed.
You can see more about how the Tobii system works in this video:
Image by Manitoba Public Insurance, used under Fair Use: Reporting.