Car Camera Aims To Keep Drivers Safe From Their Own Emotions
Christopher Philip

article-2288472-1873E521000005DC-116_634x356-623x349Scientists at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland, in collaboration with PSA Peugeot Citroën, LTS5, have developed a system which assesses a driver on seven emotions: fear, anger, joy, sadness, disgust, surprise, or suspicion.

The device works by using an infrared camera placed behind the steering wheel. The scientists believe that their technology could have implications for medicine, marketing, and even gaming.

“We know that in addition to fatigue, the emotional state of the driver is a risk factor, the researchers said. “Irritation, in particular, can make drivers more aggressive and less attentive,” they added.

The researchers admit that it’s not easy to measure emotions from within the confines of a car, especially non-invasively. Additionally, everyone expresses emotion slightly differently. For example, anger might be expressed with a leg kick, epithet, nervous tic or any other variant.

“The problem was to get the device to recognize irritation on the face of a driver,” they said, because everyone expresses their emotional state differently.

Emotion detectorTo simplify their research, they focused on two main expression, anger and disgust as these seemed to be most salient in incidences of rage.

In order to calibrate their emotional encoding, they began by teaching the system to identify expressions in a series of photos. The process was then transferred to video as well as real life situations. Overall, the scientists were happy with the performance of the emotion detector. They found that when the device failed, it was usually because their subject displayed anger in a more varied way that normal.

The team is also working on a fatigue detector which aims to measure the overall rate of eye closure. The goal is to prevent drivers from falling asleep at the wheel. They also want to detect distracted drivers using lip reading and voice recognition to provide even more clues to the driver’s emotional state.

Future work will focus on having the system function in real-time with more advanced facial monitoring algorithm.


Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne

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