Jaguar has made a real effort to push the envelope recently, dropping its stuffy old English tweed jacket for a sharply-cut suit to compete with Germany's finest offerings. A big part this transformation has been a focus on innovative safety technologies, like windscreen map overlays and talking potholes. This time, Jaguar has turned to mind-reading tech to detect distracted or sleepy drivers.
To make sure drivers are focused on the task at hand, Jaguar is researching Mind Sense. The British brand says that the human brain emits brainwaves on four different frequencies and while most modern brainwave monitoring systems use close-range sensors on a headband, the company is investigating a system based on technology used by NASA and the US bobsled team, which uses sensors integrated into the steering wheel to detect and amplify brainwaves. At the moment, the system is being trialed by scientists who are attempting to discern our brainwave frequencies from general background noise.
If the system detects drivers are distracted or daydreaming, it would then attempt to get the driver's attention by vibrating the steering wheel or pedals. Vibrating driver controls like the steering wheel and pedals is something that Jaguar also wants to use in an attempt to avoid saturating the driver with flashes or audio signals. If a driver exceeds the speed limit, an actuator at the top of the accelerator pedal arm will create a warning that the driver needs to hit the brakes and slow down.
With phone and music integration creeping into modern infotainment systems, drivers are taking their eyes off the road for longer to interact with their car dashboards. To try and minimize time with eyes off the road, Jaguar is working on a predictive camera system that tracks hands and then selects the option it thinks the driver will press without a finger actually needing to touch the screen. In user trials, successful selection was found to be increased by as much as 22 percent.
The system could also also provide feedback by sending ultrasonic pulses that replicate the sensation of a tap or tingle in the driver's finger.
Mood lighting used to be a concept limited to cheap nightclubs and restaurants, but with more and more LEDs moving into the car, it's a concept that manufacturers are embracing with open arms. Jaguar is working on a Wellness Monitoring system, which uses a medical-grade sensor to track the driver's stress levels and heart rate, and then adjusts the car's mood lighting system, climate control and audio volume to reduce stress.
All of these technologies are being explored as a part of Jaguar's wider research into road safety.