Car makers are rapidly moving beyond the singular backup camera or even blind spot cameras to new in-cabin cameras that track the driver.
According to The Wall Street Journal, at least three car makers are using cameras to track the eye movement of drivers to alert them when they are drowsy.
GM is also using in-car cameras in the Cadillac to make sure drivers are still paying attention when using its semi-autonomous features.
By 2024 luxury car models are expected to incorporate 10 cameras on average (but the global average for basic vehicles will still only be 2 cameras per vehicle), says Strategy Analytics. Luxury cars will use cameras to identify the driver for security, to determine if there’s a baby forgotten in the back seat, to gauge the number of occupants in the car and see what they are doing, and to even measure the mood of occupants, Strategy Analytics analyst Roger Lanctot told us.
“There will be cameras all over the place,” he said, noting that the car will soon be a new frontier for behavior monitoring. There’s no Nielsen in the car, but there’s a market for the data on what car occupants are watching, streaming or listening to, he added. “The car is a browser. Everything you do in the car is an indication of intent. Google built a $100 billion business on our searches. What if they could see what you’re searching for in the car?”
For now, Volvo has announced it will roll out eye tracking to all models over the next few years. The system will also alert the driver if his eyes are off the road for too long (ie for texting) and it might even limit the car’s speed in that case, said the WSJ.
Subaru began using an eye-tracking system its Forester crossovers last year. The system beeps if the driver’s eye lids droop or if his eyes stray from the road for too long. The feature is expanding to the Subaru Legacy and Outback next year.
BMW also offers a similar feature on several models.
Mercedes and Nissan don’t use cameras pointed on the driver but use sensors instead, which monitor if the car is veering out of its lane and the driver’s steering patterns, said the WSJ.
This use of cameras and sensors is only expected to increase with semi-autonomous vehicles. As noted, Cadillac already employs cameras pointed at the driver to monitor eye movement to make sure the driver is ready to resume control of the car when using its SuperCruise technology.