Tuesday 22 October 2019

'Guardian-angel' technology can respond to how a driver feels to help reduce stress behind the wheel

Adapting: Thanks to AI technology, a car will lower the temperature if it sees a driver yawning. Stock Image
Adapting: Thanks to AI technology, a car will lower the temperature if it sees a driver yawning. Stock Image
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

Soon your car will respond not just to your instructions but to your mood.

Settings in the cabin - such as light, air con and music - will change in response to your facial expressions so that stress levels, in particular, are reduced.

It is part of the benefit of new artificial intelligence (AI) technology being developed to better understand and address your mood as a driver - and a passenger.

Research has found that 74pc of people feel stressed or "overwhelmed" every day, whether at the wheel or in the office. Now, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) - among others - is developing a mood-detection system to help alert you to how stressed you are and to help reduce those levels as quickly as possible while you are driving.

It says it is one of a suite of technologies being explored as part of JLR's "tranquil sanctuary" drive.

It works like this: a driver-facing camera and biometric sensors monitor and evaluate your facial mood at any given time.

Depending on what it detects, the technology can adapt the heating, ventilation, air con, radio, ambient lighting and other factors to improve your disposition.

The system uses AI techniques to adapt to nuances in your facial expression. Over time it will "learn" to recognise the tiniest of changes in how you're feeling and will change elements such as music and temperature to make you feel better.

It might, for example, change the ambient lighting to calmer colours if the system "thinks" you are getting a bit edgy. Or it might play a few of your favourite songs to cheer you up - and maybe have you sing along. It could also lower the temperature if it "sees" you yawning or showing signs of fatigue.

Rear passengers will get similar treatment as the application of the technology expands. Thanks to a camera in the headrest of the seat, the system could dim the lights, tint the windows and raise the temperature in the back - to help someone get to sleep, for example.

Scientists say the day isn't far off when cars will be fitted with substantial arrays of such "guardian-angel" technology.

Already many marques have software in their everyday models capable of monitoring and alerting you to the danger that the way the car is being driven indicates you are driving while drowsy.

Jaguar Land Rover's chief medical officer Dr Steve Iley says that even though there is much talk about movement toward self-driving cars, the focus on the safety and comfort of the driver remains as intense as ever.

He adds that thanks to advances in research around personal well-being over the last 10 or 15 years, car makers can strive with greater success to keep drivers "engaged and alert behind the wheel in all driving scenario".

Irish Independent

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