Future Lab: Context Aware Car Safety

May 16th, 2011 |
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While context-aware devices of the near future might recommend restaurants, monitor a user’s health, or screen phone calls, they may also save human lives by keeping drivers safe and aware of their surroundings. Future Lab spoke with researchers about the problem of drowsy or distracted driving, the ability of the human mind to process information optimally, and how context-aware technology may be able to help address a problem that causes millions of traffic deaths annually.

The Global Road Safety Partnership and the U.S. Department of Transportation maintain statistics on the tragic impact of driving accidents each year. It is estimated that as many as 30% of fatal crashes may be the result of drowsy or distracted driving. Robyn Robertson, president and CEO of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, spoke with Future Lab about the problem of distracted driving. Bryan Reimer, Ph.D., provided additional information on the capacity of the human mind, and the critical role that balance will play in introducing technological assistance by context-aware devices.

Vu Nguyen, a senior technology evangelist in Intel’s research department, spoke with Future Lab while presenting at Intel Tech Heaven 2011 in New York City. His work with real-time facial recognition will allow context-aware automobile sensors to “learn” the driver’s physical appearance, even though it changes over time. With advances by Nguyen and others, cars will soon signal to their drivers when their attention naturally wanders. The passive nature of the system takes into account the concerns of Reimer and others, who note that too much technological interference may be just as dangerous as not enough.

Vu Nguyen, Senior Technology Evangelist, Intel Research Robyn Robertson, President and CEO, Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) Ottawa, Canada
Bryan Reimer, Ph.D., Research Scientist in the MIT AgeLab and the Associate Director of The New England University Transportation Center at MIT.

Links and White Papers:
Distracted Driving: So What’s the Big Picture?
Publications by Bryan Reimer

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