System detects fatigue in driver's pupils

January 06, 2016 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Driving while distracted or tired is one of the most significant factors that eventually lead to fatal traffic accidents. With a system that constantly monitors the driver’s pupils, automotive supplier Harman hopes to enable the design of driver assistance systems that reliably prevent such accidents.

Harman’s system, demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, measures increases in pupil dilation as an indication of a driver’s mental workload. Most available systems for this purpose measure the driver’s steering movements and detect slight erratic irregularities triggered by a lack of driver’s attention. While there have been approaches that monitor the driver’s eye movements before, Harman has developed a new proprietary eye and pupil tracking system that, according to the company, measures high cognitive load and mental multitasking in the driver’s seat, and signals the car’s other safety systems to adapt to the driver’s state. The company believes that its technology represents a major step forward in the domain of Advanced Safety and Driver Monitoring Systems (DMS) for vehicles.

Adoption of in-cabin cameras is growing rapidly, enabling features such as occupant detection and driver drowsiness monitoring. With the introduction of high cognitive load detection, Harman’s eye and pupil tracking technology brings additional value to the driver-facing camera in that the technology eliminates the need for complex sensors built into seats and steering wheels, or biometric sensors that require physical contact with the driver. An algorithm analyses the pupil reflex using advanced filtering and signal processing. The filter isolates and identifies responses triggered by high cognitive load. The calculated outputs are used to intuitively adjust user interfaces, like placing mobile devices in do-not-disturb mode or adjusting ADAS system intervention thresholds to minimize physical and mental distraction to the driver.

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