Many high-end luxury cars are equipped with lane departure systems that warn their drivers when they drift out of a traffic lane. These cars use cameras that are trained on the driver’s eyes that can sense a kind of blinking indicating drowsiness. The car then alerts the driver to take a break.
photo credit: article.wn.com
Andrew Campbell, along with some colleagues has developed an app called CarSafe. Using a Google Galaxy Nexus phone mounted on the windscreen, the front camera is trained on the driver and tracks his head pose, gaze direction and blinking rate. The Android app installed on the phone senses if the driver appears drowsy, and then triggers the appearance of a coffee cup on the screen and the phone bleeps to alert the driver to take a break.
The back-facing camera, in the meantime, is trained on the road and checks if the car is at a safe distance from the car in front and is also able to check if the car is not weaving outside of the traffic lane. Existing cellphones cannot access both cameras at once so the team has developed a written code that continuously switches between the two cameras. Thus, the app is only able to analyze data at a rate of eight frames per second. This reduces the app’s ability to assess safety when the car travels at high speed. But Campbell is confident that the next generation of phones will allow access to both cameras simultaneously thereby removing that road block. Tests on a variety of vehicles have been encouraging and the team is certain that these safety-centered apps will be common in the next few years.