The biometric technology used in our phones and laptops is set to have a significant impact on the way drivers use or don’t use their vehicles both now and in the future.
One of the major players already in the facial recognition space is Suburu. The manufacturer’s EyeSight technology monitors traffic movement, optimizes cruise control, and warns you if you sway outside your lane.
The core of the EyeSight system is its set of dual colour cameras, which are placed discretely near the rearview mirror. This advanced system provides extra awareness, safety, and added peace of mind for drivers as it scans the road for unanticipated dangers.
But perhaps a more existing use of the technology is the ability to hone in on the driver themselves – are they fatigued, distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol? And what role can the vehicle play in mitigating risk on behalf of that driver?
The Subaru facial recognition system, called DriverFocus, stands as the first such biometric platform to hit the compact SUV segment. The Japanese-based carmaker is certainly putting its full weight behind the technology, as part of an innovation it hopes will reduce the estimated 1,000 injuries per day in the United States involving distracted driving.
“DriverFocus is a driver monitoring system that uses facial recognition software to identify signs of driver fatigue or driver distraction,” Suburu said earlier this year.
“DriverFocus works with Subaru’s award-winning EyeSight Driver Assist Technology to reduce the chance of an accident.”
The feature will come standard on Forrester’s Touring models, the most expensive Forrester model when it is released later this year. And while Suburu isn’t the first maker to explore biometric monitoring for driving – brands such as Lexus and Cadillac already offer facial recognition technology in their higher-priced vehicles – their efforts finally represent the spread of that technology to non-luxury vehicles.
Beyond that, manufacturers are working towards seeing what role facial monitoring can provide in terms of comfort, personalisation and convenience for the driver.
Chrysler is currently working on a plan where the steering wheel would scan the driver’s face to confirm his or her identity. The vehicle, working off a stored driver profile, could then adjust the seat position or radio station before bringing up a daily list of tasks tailored to that specific driver for example.
And around three years ago, Ford won a patent for a “keyless biometric system” that could use fingerprints, retinal scans or voice recognition to allow entry into vehicles and enable ignitions to start. According to the patent, the system relies on connecting the driver’s smartphone to the vehicle’s controller via Bluetooth or WiFi.
It will be interesting to see where manufacturers take the technology of biometric facial recognition in the future, but it seems clear that in any case the technology is set to play an important role in how the automotive landscape might look in the future.