By Claire Chat, Guest Author (For guest posts see Terms ) It seems that it will not be that long before cars effectively drive themselves...
By Claire Chat, Guest Author (For guest posts see Terms)
It seems that it will not be that long before cars effectively drive themselves. Already there is so much computing power in the modern car that is can reasonably be described as a computer on wheels. Just about every function is under computer control, and some cars connect directly to the internet and have their own IP address.
However you do not necessarily need to own a new high end car to benefit from all of the gadgets that are included with it. Today you can download an app that will turn your smartphone into a device that will improve your road safety in a similar manner to the safety features that are only usually provided in luxury cars such as the Toyota Lexus. The app provides a driver-fatigue alert and a lane-departure warning.
In cars these features are provided by cameras and radar. A camera is focussed on the eyes of the driver and a program searches the images for signs that the driver is drowsy. Such signs include an increased rate of blinking, and when detected an alert is issued advising the driver to take a break.
Using the Android app CarSafe, a smartphone with front and rear facing cameras can be mounted on the windscreen with its camera directed at the driver. The camera and associated software monitors blink rate as described above along with the head positions and the driver’s direction of gaze. When symptoms of drowsiness are detected the driver is alerted with an audible warning and along with an image of a coffee cup.
The rear facing camera points at the roads and monitors the distance from the car in front as well aw the car’s position in relation to the white lines. If it considers that you are driving to close, or if you are wandering across the white lines, then the phone sounds an alert.
As most if not all contract phones are unable to access both front and rear facing cameras simultaneously, the app switches from one camera to the other around eight times a second, which is adequate unless driving at high speed; however future advances are planned that will access both cameras simultaneously thus allowing continual monitoring. The app is currently being tested by road safety bodies.
There are also a number of mobile phone deals provided by insurance companies that tie driving style with the cost of insurance. The phones monitor location, speed, acceleration, braking and cornering characteristics, and relay the data back to the insurance company; if you drive safely you receive a discount on your insurance premium.The author: Claire Chat a Londoner interested in technology in general as well as in the mobile and telecommunication industry. If you want Claire to write you specific content, you can find email her here or contact her on Twitter (Claire_Chat).