Back in January Jaguar Land Rover announced its tie-in with Intel and Seeing Machines to develop eye-tracking technology that could be used prevent drowsy driving – but the firm also has other ideas for eye sensing tech that are both more mundane and more useful in day-to-day terms.
While the potential safety benefits of the firm’s prototype "Driver Monitor System" (DMS) that was announced at CES in Las Vegas in January is impossible to deny, since it monitors the driver’s eye movements, even behind sunglasses, to detect distraction or drowsiness and trigger alerts when those situations arise, they might not be the sort of tangible improvements that buyers will notice day-in, day-out. But the firm has just published a patent that illustrates another way that eye-tracking hardware and software could help drivers – by helping to decide when to operate the rear screen’s wiper.
The patent notes, rightly, that rear wipers have some essential problems. On wet roads or in rain, constant wiping is rarely necessary but intermittent sweeps are often mistimed, so at the instant you glance in the mirror there’s a good chance the view through the back screen will be obscured. Cue the eye-tracking tech …
According to the patent, using JLR’s system, when your eye moves towards the rear mirror and the rear wiper is set to "intermittent," the car will automatically give the screen an extra wipe (provided it hasn’t just done one a moment before), so it’s sure to be clear at just the moment you need to see through it.
It’s never likely to be a headline-making technology, but there are few better illustrations of how eye-tracking technology could seamlessly improve the driving experience, subtly working behind the scenes.
Given that few Jaguars currently use rear wipers, at least until the forthcoming F-Pace SUV is released, the technology is likely to appear on Land Rover machines first – don’t be surprised if it appears on high-end Range Rovers in the not-too-distant future.