Ford, Intel research explores facial recognition and gesture UI in vehicles

July 1, 2014 - 

Ford and Intel announced they have been collaborating on a new research initiative that explores new functions for the connected car, such as allowing drivers to remotely view the interior of their car using a smartphone, or a facial recognition system that would allow the owner to gain access and drive their vehicle, according to ZDNet.

Named Mobile Interior Imaging, or Project Mobii, the joint research project looks at how interior-facing cameras could be coupled with sensor technology and data previously generated within and around the car to provide a more seamless interaction between the driver and the vehicle.

For the research project, Intel ethnographers, anthropologists and engineers collaborated with Ford research engineers, leveraging perceptual computing technology to ultimately provide a more intuitive car experience.

“Our goal with the Mobii research is to explore how drivers interact with technology in the car and how we can then make that interaction more intuitive and predictive,” said Paul Mascarenas, CTO and VP of Ford research and innovation. “The use of interior imaging is purely research at this point; however, the insights we’ve gained will help us shape the customer experience in the long term.”

Ford vehicles are currently equipped with exterior vehicle cameras for various driver-assist features, including lane-keeping assist and lane departure warning, however the Mobii research explores new uses for interior-facing cameras, such as driver authentication.

The use of facial recognition software can provide enhanced privacy controls, while enabling Project Mobii to verify the identities of multiple drivers and instantly adjust features based on their respective preferences, including the display of information specific to them, such as calendar, music and contacts.

If Project Mobii detects that there is a passenger in the car, it will automatically activate a privacy setting that only displays the vehicle’s navigation interface.

Additionally, if the system fails to recognize the driver, it automatically sends a photo of the unknown person to the smartphone of the primary vehicle owner, who can then configure permissions and enable or disable individual features.

Finally, gesture recognition software enables the driver to more intuitively interact with the vehicle through both natural gestures and simple voice commands, performing a range of tasks such as adjusting the temperature, or opening and closing a sunroof.

Previously reported in September 2012 by BiometricUpdate.com, engineers at the Ford Research and Innovation lab began designing vehicles with control inputs, sensors, cameras and biometrics that take the driver’s pulse and examine breathing patterns, to help drivers in demanding situations.

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About Stephen Mayhew

Stephen Mayhew is the publisher and co-founder of Biometrics Research Group, Inc.. His experience includes a mix of entrepreneurship, brand development and publishing. Stephen attended Carleton University and lives in Toronto, Canada. Connect with Stephen on LinkindIn.