News: Cars could tell drivers to stop using mobile phone

New system detects hand near face and sounds alarm

Mobile phone in car

YOUR CAR may soon be able to sound an alarm if it thinks you’re holding a mobile phone while driving.

Developed by scientists at Santa Catarina State University in Joaçaba, Brazil, it is the latest step in the development of technology that can alert a driver to ill-advised or illegal behaviour. Nissan is working on alcohol detectors that will disable a car’s engine while already, new models such as the Mercedes S-class can tell if the driver is feeling drowsy and advise them to rest.

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The new system uses a dashboard-mounted camera and facial recognition software that scans areas of skin pigment to determine whether they represent a face or one with a hand next to it, indicating that the driver might be using a mobile phone. If the system calculates that the additional area of pigment is a hand, it will give the driver a warning.

If trials are successful, the system could be used by hire car companies wanting to discourage distracted driving or by parents keen to check if their children are using a phone while driving.

The scientists have not revealed whether the software can detect whether drivers are using their mobile phone to take a selfie, as Driving reported here.