Cameras in cars are already common, especially in high end vehicles, but they all face outward keeping an eye on the scary world beyond your windshield. Not for much longer though, as they’re about to sneak inside the cabin too.
Qualcomm has been showing off its latest auto tech at CES 2016, and inside its tricked out Maserati we found a big brother style surveillance system.
As well as cameras on all four exterior sides of the car for a complete 360 view of what (and who) is around your vehicle, there’s another camera mounted to the steeling wheel column, staring us right in the face.
When it was first pointed out it did feel a little disconcerting, but after a demo of its use there’s a surprisingly practical explanation for its presence.
It’s in fact a facial recognition camera which monitors the driver’s face, checking they are keeping their eyes on the road and not getting distracted.
If you try to sneak a peek at your mobile phone, or start to doze off at the wheel, the system will play audio alerts to let you know you’re not paying attention to the job at hand.
In terms of safety it’s a welcome addition, but we did find it a little too keen to accuse us of being distracted – even a quick glance out of the side window would trigger the system to tell us off.
It perhaps needs a little bit of fine tuning, but it will hopefully put people off reaching for their phone while on the road.
Wheel of fortune
It’s not just the nosey camera which will be keeping tabs on you, as Qualcomm is also considering packing your steeling wheel full of sensors.
Qualcomm’s European President Enrico Salvatori told techradar that the inclusion of its Snapdragon 820A chip into cars not only provides the driver with more information on the dashboard, but potentially also provides the car with more data on the driver.
Salvatori hinted that sensors could be built into steering wheels to measure various health related vital statistics such as heart rate, blood pressure and more.
If we could eventually have a sensor in the wheel to measure blood alcohol level we could eradicate drink driving.
This tech is still a couple of years away from making it into our day to day cars as lead times in the auto industry are much longer than the phone and tablet markets, and we can’t wait.