Garmin wants to bring current driver distraction features to the masses, while Harman is already looking quite literally to the future and at better ways of monitoring driver stress and alertness.
Volvo unveiled the world's first driver drowsiness detection system back in 2007. And while systems capable of measuring how alert or tired a driver is by steering wheel inputs, length of journey and other factors are now standard equipment on many cars, it's still mainly the preserve of premium automotive brands.
"The most exciting development of the new Garmin Drive line is that driver awareness features typically seen in luxury vehicles are now accessible as an aftermarket solution for all drivers," said Dan Bartel, Garmin vice president of worldwide sales.
The new Garmin Drive line of devices can pre-warn drivers about an upcoming hairpin turn, for example, give directions via landmarks rather than road signs for clarity, and automatically build in rest stops to a journey if it's calculated to be over a certain length. And, when hooked up to a dashcam, it can actively monitor the space around the car, alerting potentially distracted drivers when lights change or when the traffic ahead has started moving again.
New single-camera approach
One of the reasons why compressive driver assist and monitoring systems are still the preserve of brands like Mercedes and Audi is that they are very expensive and complex, often requiring an array of sensors as well as multiple driver facing cameras.
However, Harman may have found a new way of keeping a close eye on drowsiness, stress and distraction via a single, driver-facing camera. Billed as a world first, Harman's technology tracks the driver's pupils and monitors their dilation. Measuring pupil reflex is an accurate way of assessing mental workload as well as alertness. If a driver is struggling to concentrate or is becoming drowsy, the system can trigger active driver assistance systems if needed.
"Safety on the road is more important than ever as more vehicles become connected," said Alon Atsmon, vice president of technology strategy at Harman. "Our priority is to arm Original Equipment Manufacturers with a holistic range of integrated technologies that address both driver wants and needs, and the Harman eye and pupil tracking technology is another advanced step toward a more intelligent driving experience."