The risk of nodding off at the wheel can happen even to “veteran” drinkers. All it takes is a momentary lapse, and you can consider yourself lucky if you walk away with mere bruises after. But drowsiness doesn’t come solely as a result of alcohol consumption. With our busy lives, we’ve all felt sleepy while driving at one point or another.
Harman International Industries, parent company of Harman Kardon and JBL, has recently introduced a system that may address driver drowsiness. Although there have been studies by other companies to address sleepiness, these use complex sensors in the steering wheel and the seat. Harman’s system uses an in-car camera that tracks the driver’s pupils.
Specifically, the camera measures pupil dilation. A software algorithm analyzes the pupil reflex using filtering and signal processing. What the system looks for are signs of high cognitive load, which means weariness, distraction or over-stimulation. Based on the results, the car will adjust through actions like placing mobile phones in do-not-disturb mode, or putting the safety systems on heightened alert.
"Safety on the road is more important than ever as more vehicles become connected," says Alon Atsmon, vice president of technology strategy at Harman. "Harman is advancing solutions that balance drivers’ desire to stay connected in the car without a compromise to their safety and security. Our priority is to arm OEMs with a holistic range of integrated technologies that address both driver wants and needs, and the Harman eye- and pupil-tracking technology is another advanced step toward a more intelligent driving experience."
We hope Harman’s pupil-tracking system is finalized and mass-produced. It might finally make a dent in drowsiness-related car accidents.