Eye tracking software has not exactly hit the big time yet. Samsung phones boast the ability to detect when a user is watching their screen so that it can prevent powering down or going into hibernation following inactivity as long as the user continues to look at the screen. Fall asleep and the phone will happily hibernate until morning. Caterpillar is to roll out a more practical iteration of the technology that will prevent its truck drivers from falling asleep at the wheel.
The Driver Safety Solution not only tracks eyes but facial movements as well. It works without the driver having to wear special gear and instead monitors the position of the eyes and the elevation of the face to determine whether the driver is falling asleep or not. There is no need for the software to be recalibrated when drivers swap shifts and the fact that it isn’t necessary to wear any special headsets or mouthpieces means that it will be more comfortable for the drivers than previous versions.
It isn’t cheap, however. The Seeing Machines developer system will cost $20,000 to be installed on each vehicle although buyers will enjoy a bulk buying discount. A total of 22 technologies were tested and trialled and it was DSS that won out. Having already been tested by BHP Billiton and Newmont Mining, Caterpillar has decided to sell the packages of sensors, cameras, and software to its customers and it should improve safety by ensuring drivers keep their eyes on the road and don’t fall asleep.