Private Eyes Are Watching You. Are You Paying Attention?

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Toyota's new safety system watches your eyes.Sorry to pull out the corny Hall & Oates lyrics, but it made me laugh…Toyota has announced they will integrate “eye monitoring” into a new safety system designed to measure if a driver eye’s are looking at the road. Combining this data with crash detection systems, Toyota’s goal is to determine if you’re paying attention to what’s going on. If the vehicle determines you’re not looking at the road, the vehicle will automatically apply brakes, pre-tension safety belts, etc., in order to prepare for a crash.

There are a few problems with this system. First of all, calibrating this system for different people will be difficult. Anyone wearing eyeglasses, sunglasses, different skin tones, light differences caused by people wearing hats, makeup, etc., would all present problems. I don’t pretend to know exactly how this system works, but I would imagine it depends on a computer’s ability to differentiate between light and dark. Obviously, this would be an imperfect system. Perhaps when combined with other data (like crash avoidance sensors i.e. vehicle proximity radar) there would be enough information for the vehicle to make a judgment.

There’s another problem with this – a legal problem. Keep in mind that every sensor reading and input is recorded by your vehicle. While none of the manufacturers have disclosed specifics, it’s a well-known fact that vehicle sensor readings can be retrieved after a crash. Imagine if your vehicle said you weren’t looking at the road just before an accident. If the system incorrectly assumed you weren’t paying attention and recorded as much, you could be legally liable for an accident that may not have been your fault. Imagine hitting a deer – your insurance company would retrieve your “eye data”, and if they determined you were looking away when you hit the deer, you could be on the hook for the accident.

In these litigation happy United States, it seems like Toyota’s eye-sensing safety system would be begging for a lawsuit.

Filed Under: Tundra News

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  1. Joey says:

    Love Toyota’s… Always had um’ If they integrate this feature into their new vehicles, This will be the last one i own… Hope they are listening…

  2. Michael says:

    I saw this system on TV, they said the intent was to prevent accidents caused by sleeping at the wheel, great idea. This type of technology will eventually lead to cars that drive themselfs, but would you put your life in the hands of a computer? Most people would probably say no without realizing how many functions of today’s vehicals are already computer controlled. Some vehicals are already equiped with “black boxes” that record driving information that could possibly used against you in a legal proceeding … so private eyes are wathching you, kinda scary.

  3. admin says:

    Joey and Michael – good points both.

    Like we said, this may not be well received in the USA (at least not yet). Perhaps once all the privacy and legal issues have been fleshed out…

  4. Michael says:

    Found this relevant article on MSN:
    Will your car tattle on you?


  5. headleyj says:

    that’s BS. Make it an option for starters. Granted the PC World article states “cars”, but hell I don’t even want all the nannies on the Tundra now, let alone the truck telling me I’m not looking where I’m supposed to. What about sunglasses? What if I laugh and I my eyes squint? Will that be percieved as my eyes closing – granted these are things for the designers and engineers to tackle, but geez, this is a bit much.

    If you put that on a truck – you just lost a buyer.

  6. admin says:

    Headleyj, you’re not alone in your opinion. It seems that many people dislike the whole idea of vehicles being so “smart” – I don’t think it’s the idea that they can help us monitor ourselves better. I think it’s the fact that we can’t trust them.

    After all, the simple act of opening a program on my laptop can cause it to malfunction…are we really expected to trust a vehicle to perform such a complicated task?

  7. headleyj says:

    It’s not the fact that I worry about it malfunctioning, it’s existence in the first place that implies I’m too irresponsible to operate my own vehicle with my own human body.

    One may be able to sway me to the idea of implementing it in public/ mass transportation, but that would still take some convincing.

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