Busy With Your Smartphone While Driving? Watch Out, Here Comes The Tracking Gadgets

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Sep 02 2014
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Did you notice how drivers nowadays dangerously looking at their smartphone while driving on the road? And when you stop at traffic lights, you can bet your last penny that the driver next to you are checking their email or facebook – guaranteed. Well, that’s about to change – General Motors, the largest US automobile manufacturer is preparing to launch its next generation cars.


Apparently, this mass-produced cars will be fitted with eye-and-head tracking technology that will warn you if you’re distracted. Here’s how it works – the tracking devices will start by measuring the rotation of the head so they can alert drivers if they are not spending enough time looking in certain areas such as the road ahead or the rear-view mirror.

General Motor - eye-and-head tracking technology

The devices consist of cameras with algorithms that can identify features of drivers’ faces, such as the rotation of the head and the frequency of eyelid blinks. It then imposes this information on a three-dimensional map of the interior of the car so it can tell to an accuracy of one degree what the driver is looking at. It works exactly like how a security guard watches over CCTV for suspicious figures.


The tracking gadgets will be provided by Seeing Machines (LON: SEE), an Australian company listed in London, in a team-up agreement with Japanese safety giant Takata Corp. (TYO: 7312) yesterday, September 1. At the initial stage, Seeing Machines is set to provide the tracking devices for up to 500,000 vehicles over the next three to five years.

Eye Tracking Technology

Used worldwide across the automotive, mining, transport and aviation industries, Seeing Machines’ software and engineering services and products are used by customers such as BHP Billiton, Freeport McMoran, Toll Holdings and Boeing. On the other hand, Takata Corporation is a world leading global innovator and supplier of automotive safety systems; including airbag systems, seat belts, steering wheels, electronics, sensors, interior trim, and child restraint systems.


The new technology to be installed will be more than a piece of gadget that will alert distracted drivers. The devices could also be used to detect the identity of the driver as a guard against theft, just like facial recognition technology. It could also be used by parents to stop their kids from using the family car after 10pm at night, for example. However, there’s a concern about privacy about how the data will be stored and handled.

Facial Recognition Technology

Nevertheless, this latest news will not come down well with critics who are still anger by General Motors (GM) and Takata controversial products, especially the decade-old flaws in the ignition system, of which GM was accused of hiding. Although such a tracking technology could be a brilliant idea to detects and alerts drivers falling asleep, it could create another explosive scandal if data are secretly sent to the police, for whatever reasons or excuses.


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