Dashboard Camera Warns Drivers Making Calls
It is no new knowledge that driving while using the phone increases chances of accidents significantly. Many times, the driver may even unconsciously attend a call.
Statistically, it takes about five seconds to dial a phone number. In this duration, a car traveling at 60 mph moves about 140 meters. According to the Virginia Tech transportation Institute, almost 80% of crashes involve drivers who were not paying attention in the three seconds before the event.
These scary figures have set researchers to find ways of identifying when the user is driving and then warn them of the potential danger.
Rafael Berri, along with a few researchers at Santa Catarina State University in Brazil reveal their solution using a tiny camera installed behind the steering wheel in the dashboard. Drivers usually scan the road from all directions while driving but will fix their gaze straight ahead while making calls. This makes the position of the dashboard camera in front of the driver just in alignment to spot the use of phones.
The system analyzes the images from the camera in three steps:
- Locates the driver and crops the image to show only the face and specific area on each side of the face. This will locate the driver’s hands, in case they are raised against the face while making a call.
- Identifies the skin pixels in the image and judges the position of these pixels. Then it partitions the image into segments showing face and hands.
- Determines if the driver is on a call and warns accordingly.
The researchers put their algorithm to test on a set of five videos captured by the dashboard camera. The camera shoots videos with a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels at 15 frames per second. The videos were then divided into three-second-segments and sent to the system for analysis.
The results were generally satisfying. “Periods of three seconds were correctly classified at 87.43 per cent of cases,” reports Berri. However, the accuracy of the algorithm drops dramatically in certain situations like direct sunlight on the skin, which creates images of very high contrast.
Though the solution seems impressive, there are still some very major doubts about the usage of this system.
Firstly, how exactly the driver will be warned is yet to be decided. Moreover, the system will have to determine if the car is in motion or not. Many people will still make calls regardless of any warnings, or they could easily fool the system by wearing gloves or earmuffs. Lastly, a car that spies on the driver? Customers are likely to shy away from the possibility.
Source: MIT Technology Review