Biometric Tracking for Driver Monitoring

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May 25, 2023


Autonomous Vechicles / Smart Technology / Synthetic Biology


Biometric Tracking for Driver Monitoring

Driver Monitoring: Enhancing Safety with Comprehensive Monitoring and AI

Driver Monitoring: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the United States, human error is the cause for 94% of serious accidents. Furthermore, according to the association for safe international road travel, approximately 1.3 million people die in road crashes each year. Accidents represent a cost of more than US$500 billion per year, costing an average of 1-2% of the annual GDP of each country. Therefore, in an effort to reduce these numbers, the automotive industry is aiming to utilise technological advancements in monitoring and assistance systems for drivers.

In the recent past, Driver Monitoring Systems (DMS) have been limited to monitoring head position and/or eye tracking. Whilst these systems are generally suitable most of the time, these systems do not provide a comprehensive picture of what the human driver is doing.

By introducing additional monitoring techniques that cover the face and voice, we can actively identify signs of driver impairment caused by physical distraction, mental distraction from cognitive load or anger, drowsiness, and other factors. This, combined with the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and deep learning elevates driver-state monitoring to a new level. With this type of comprehensive monitoring, designers can actively create Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) or in-car entertainment systems that respond appropriately. These systems, for instance, can track driver fatigue and distraction levels to enable proper alerts and interventions to stop dangerous driving.

For example, the system can actively instruct the driver to stop using a mobile phone through an audio or visual alert, or initiate haptic feedback if it detects that the driver is sleepy. In semi-autonomous vehicles, being aware of the driver’s state fosters a relationship of trust between humans and machines that makes it possible to take one’s eyes off the road and helps to overcome the ‘handoff’ problem.

Innovations in Biometric Tracking for Driver Monitoring

Austrian sensor expert ams Osram has unveiled an updated DMS for automakers, which can integrate with other in-car systems to send an alert if it detects that the driver’s eyes are not on the road. The system uses eye tracking and 3D optical sensing technology to watch for signs of drowsiness and distracted driving.

While ams internally created the 3D sensing technology using flood and dot pattern illuminators as part of an Active Stereo Vision system, Eyeware actively provides the eye tracking technology. The 3D solution allows for driver identification through facial recognition and generates a detailed depth map of the driver’s head to determine its position in relation to the road.

The automotive industry designs the DMS for use in proof-of-concept demonstrations, and in addition to alerting distracted drivers, it may also support augmented reality applications. To make sure that crucial dashboard information is always visible in the driver’s line of sight, a car with a smart windscreen, for instance, could track their gaze.

Caaresys actively offers DMS systems powered by biometric, low-emission radar, and contactless technologies. Caaresys has collaborated with several vehicle manufacturers to deliver its cabin monitoring solution, which includes vital sign sensing, passenger localisation, and Child Presence Detection (CPD). After its acquisition by Harman, Caaresys supports Harman’s Digital Cockpit and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) solutions, strengthening the company’s line of automotive products.

Caaresys has developed a small radio frequency radar, which is an active non-intrusive sensing system that automakers can install anywhere in a car’s interior. The system can identify the state of a passenger’s seat occupancy and track several biometric signals, such as respiration rate, heart rate, and heart rate variability.

Developments in DMS

Israeli company Cipia has introduced a new driver monitoring system to combat fatigue and distracted driving. The aptly named Driver Sense solution employs computer vision to monitor the person operating the vehicle. It uses metrics such as gaze tracking to ensure the driver’s eyes are open and remain fixed on the road. The Cipia vehicle safety system actively monitors drivers using computer vision technology. It detects potential distractions such as phone usage or eating/drinking, while Driver Sense measures blink rates to identify signs of drowsiness.

Over the past 20 years, the Swedish company Tobii has established global leadership positions in eye tracking and attention computing. They have achieved this in various industries, including healthcare, behavior research, virtual and augmented reality, and gaming. Tobii is now expanding its portfolio by announcing that it has tailored its industry-leading eye-tracking technology to meet the demands of the automotive Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) market. The DMS by Tobii, known as Tobii DMS, has been in development since 2019. It is now ready for deployment in conjunction with the anticipated mass market adoption in 2024–2025. Tobii acquires Phasya, forms partnerships with OEM clients and Tier-1 suppliers, and establishes alliances with Sunny SmartLead and Nviso.

Next-Generation DMS

The next-generation DMS from Swedish tech company Smart Eye can recognise changes in drivers’ facial expressions and emotions by using AI-powered face tracking software. With the help of interior sensors, the system can also identify specific faces for security and safety reasons, such as allowing access to the vehicle via face identification, which German automaker Porsche is already testing. There are many other applications for interior monitoring besides safety, such as urging the driver to take a break if the technology notices they are growing tired or summoning assistance in the event of a medical emergency. Smart Eye also suggests that this technology has the potential to customize in-car entertainment for passengers or select driving modes based on facial expressions or emotions. Furthermore, it can identify if there is a bag, a pet, or a sleeping child left in the car.

Advancements in Biometric Technologies for Automotive Industry

The technology conglomerate Rheinmetall AG and Germany’s largest biometrics company, DERMALOG Identification Systems GmbH, have formed a joint venture, Rheinmetall Dermalog SensorTec GmbH. In the future, this new business intends to offer automakers the most cutting-edge biometric technologies. The joint venture aims to actively create a robust Driver Monitoring System (DMS) that can detect and issue appropriate warnings when drivers are distracted.

DERMALOG and Rheinmetall will combine their expertise in biometrics, AI, and radar technology to develop the DMS within the framework of the joint venture. The system will monitor the entire cabin interior and keep an eye on the driver. 

Car manufacturer Abarth is testing a face biometric code that can detect whether or not passengers and drivers are having a good time. The company collaborated with Loughborough University, UK to conduct the trials. Volunteers helped researchers test the technology at the British racetrack Mallory Park.

Passengers seated in an Abarth F595, 595 Esseesse, or 595 Competizione next to a professional driver actively participated in the study. The test results revealed that both drivers (31.8%) and passengers (35.4%) predominantly felt happiness during the drive. The researchers utilized Polar H10 and Empatica E4 sensors on their wrists to actively measure heart rate, alongside recording apparent emotions through biometric cameras.

The Future of Biometric Tracking for Driver Monitoring

The global market for DMS generated US$1.8 billion in 2021 and is projected to reach US$4.6 billion by 2031, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 10.2% from 2022 to 2031. Whilst current DMS systems are focused on preventing collisions, further research is expected to branch into the cybersecurity realm.

In this respect, DMS systems actively expect to incorporate fingerprint or face recognition techniques, similar in principle to current smartphones. Finally, due to their effectiveness in assessing individual drivers’ performance and preventing unauthorised use of vehicles, biometric DMS find extensive use in fleet management. This ultimately promotes improved safety. Sales of vehicles with improved safety features to prevent unauthorised access and lower the risk of theft, have been supported by changing consumer spending habits and lifestyles. This will substantially support market expansion for biometric DMS. The strict government policies relating to road safety, which recommend and mandate the incorporation of key security systems into vehicles, are also anticipated to continue to have an impact on the growth of the biometric driver identification and monitoring market.



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