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Gesture-controlled car begins testing
Engineers are testing a device that uses a driver’s gestures to control a vehicle. The system incorporates an infrared sensor mounted on the dashboard and recognises facial expressions, nods and winks to alter certain settings on the vehicle.
Pre-programed movements – such as a tilt of the head or a wink – correspond to a list of given commands for the radio, satellite navigation, Bluetooth system, as well as the car’s heating and ventilation controls.
The technology is currently being trialled in a Ford KA prototype and see actions such as tilting your head to the left or right to increase or decrease the volume of the car’s stereo respectively.
As well as head movements and facial expressions, motorists can even use hand gestures to control other facets of the car – raising or lowering your palm in front of the centre console will change the ventilation system’s settings.
A sensor in the gearstick picks up the direction of hand movements, adjusting the controls accordingly for heating or air conditioning.
More conventional functions are also incorporated into the technology. For example, tapping the right hand side of the steering wheel will skip forward a track on the CD player, and vice versa on the other side of the wheel.
By making the universal finger-and-thumb phone sign, drivers will also be able to call up their mobile’s phonebook and make calls on the move.
A wink is used to turn the car’s stereo on or off – the system is said to be intelligent enough to distinguish between an involuntary blink and a purpose-made wink through the length of time of the action.
The new advances in in-car technology will hopefully help improve safety: removing the temptation and necessity to avert your attention from the road when making a change to the car’s settings will improve concentration and awareness at the wheel.
According to Hans Roth, director of technology at Harman (the company behind the system), “It [the technology] is all about reducing distractions in the car. If you don’t have to take your hands off the wheel or look down then it’s obviously safer.”
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