[AEE] Toshiba's Automotive System Keeps Eye on Driver's Face

May 25, 2009
Mayuko Uno, Nikkei Electronics
A camera is mounted on top of the steering wheel. It took several seconds for each of the initial settings (two shots of the driver's face). Due to the flu epidemic, many visitors were wearing masks at the exhibition site. Toshiba said it needs to upgrade the system as it cannot sufficiently recognize masks and sunglasses yet.
A camera is mounted on top of the steering wheel. It took several seconds for each of the initial settings (two shots of the driver's face). Due to the flu epidemic, many visitors were wearing masks at the exhibition site. Toshiba said it needs to upgrade the system as it cannot sufficiently recognize masks and sunglasses yet.
[Click to enlarge image]

Toshiba Corp exhibited a system that detects the face and eye directions of the driver using images shot with a camera at Automotive Engineering Exposition 2009, which took place at Pacifico Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan, from May 20 to 22.

This system can recognize which area the driver is looking at. And it can be used to alert the driver to inattentive driving or to operate car navigation system by combining the eye direction and manually-operated switches. The company doesn't have a plan for the timing of its commercialization.

As initial settings, (1) the driver's full face and (2) his/her face looking at the center of the car navigation system are shot with the camera. The former is used to adjust the shape of the face and the positions of the eyes, etc, while the latter is for adjusting the relationship between the eye direction and the orientation of the face.

After these settings are done, the system starts recognizing the driver's face, and the section that the driver is looking at is indicated with a yellow frame.

The system used in the demonstration recognized which of eight areas was being looked at by the driver. The eight areas are the left, center and right areas of the windshield, the left mirror, the right mirror, the meters, the car navigation system and the audio system. The system can also be used to alert the driver to drowsy driving by detecting blinks in the future, Toshiba said.

The company used a PC in the demonstration. It said that real time processing is possible with the computational performance of a typical notebook PC.

Toshiba is considering reducing the volume of computation for embedded CPUs by, for example, decreasing the number of points of a wire frame model used to recognize a face, when commercializing the system.