DENSO using FotoNation image recognition to improve vehicle safety feature

Automotive technology firm DENSO Corporation will begin using FotoNation’s image recognition technology to significantly improve the performance of its Driver Status Monitor, a safety feature used in commercial vehicles.

FotoNation’s facial image recognition technologies will help accelerate DENSO’s development of next-generation products to be used in passenger vehicles, including a system to help drivers return to driving mode during Level 3 of autonomous drive.

The partnership will combine DENSO’s accumulated experience in improving the robustness of cabin sensing technologies and FotoNation’s advanced facial image recognition and neural network technologies.

DENSO will be able to achieve what it claims is the world’s most sophisticated driver status detection.

The system will not be affected by differences between individual faces, or by sunglasses, masks, and other facial obstructions, in the vehicle cabin where environmental light changes dramatically.

DENSO provides a driver status monitor for heavy trucks and large sightseeing buses, which uses a cabin camera to capture images of the driver and computer vision technology to detect the driver’s face angle to determine the level of drowsiness.

Using an algorithm to analyze the driver’s eye blinking, DENSO’s driver status monitor can detect driver drowsiness and alert the driver when it senses the driver is distracted or falling asleep at the wheel, which can help prevent traffic accidents.

“Understanding the status of the driver and engaging them at the right time is an important component for enabling the future of autonomous driving,” said Yukihiro Kato, senior executive director of information & safety systems business group of DENSO. “I believe this collaboration with Xperi will help accelerate our innovative ADAS product development by bringing together the unique expertise of both our companies.”

FotoNation’s facial image recognition and neural networks technologies will significantly increase detection accuracy by detecting more features instead of using the conventional detection method based on the relative positions of the eyes, nose, mouth, and other facial regions.

Additionally, DENSO will develop new functions — such as those to detect the driver’s gaze direction and facial expressions more accurately — to understand the needs of the driver in an effort to help create more comfortable vehicles.

“We are excited to partner with DENSO to innovate in such a dynamic field,” said Jon Kirchner, CEO of Xperi Corporation. “This partnership will play a significant role in paving the way to the ultimate goal of safer roadways through use of our imaging and facial analytics technologies and DENSO’s vast experience in the space.”

In May, FotoNation demonstrated its hybrid computational imaging implementations for face/body detection and tracking and iris recognition at the Embedded Vision Summit in California.

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