As modern cars gain head-up displays, plus centrally mounted infotainment screens with a touchless interface, so users can scroll through several menus, whilst on the move, the question of where the driver’s eyes are looking become more important. Distraction is a big factor in many road collisions, so insurers will be interested to read the results of this pilot scheme by SEAT automotive;
SEAT is using the latest in eye-tracking technology to enable its engineers to make driving more intuitive and safer in the future. The Barcelona-based manufacturer can track a driver’s gaze using eye-tracking glasses which use infrared light sensors, high resolution images and a sophisticated algorithm to pinpoint exactly where the driver is looking when behind the wheel.
With the road ahead being the primary focus for drivers, the technology helps engineers design cabins which allow drivers to safely locate and operate technology on the centre console – including the infotainment system – and steering wheel at a glance. The SEAT Smart Quality team is piloting the technology with the aim of improving the safety and the driver experience of future models by obtaining precise information about human interactions with its vehicles.
Rubén Martínez, head of SEAT’s Smart Quality department, said: “We must guarantee the minimum interaction time with the screen, and to do this, anything the drivers needs must be where users intuitively and naturally expect it to be.
“Now we can reliably know where users expect to find certain information, such as battery level or fuel level, or to adjust other in-car devices.”
The Smart Quality department selects users with different profiles who then get behind the wheel of the SEAT Leon. “We’ll ask them, for example, to turn up the temperature or change the radio station, and we’ll analyse which part of the screen they’ve directed their gaze at first, and how long it takes them.”
Previously, these tests were performed by asking people questions, but “the brain often misleads and where you think you’re looking is not always the reality,” adds Martínez.
In the Smart Quality department facilities, using a complex algorithm, the pilot enables SEAT to study the behavioural patterns of each driver’s gaze. This can help designers to ensure that drivers spend even more time looking at the road ahead, instead of trying to operate controls. This technology will be key in developing the cabins of tomorrow’s vehicles, determining the location, size, and distribution of information and various controls in the most intuitive and safe way possible.
For more information on the New Leon and the rest of SEAT’s model range, visit: https://www.seat.co.uk/