Does Heads Up Display Fix Distracted Driving?
Distracted driving statistics show that despite all efforts, laws still do not prevent motorists from using their cellphones while driving. The numbers associated with distracted driving collisions and deaths continue to rise. Navdy, a small start up company in San Francisco is hoping to solve the distracted-driver crisis through their heads-up display technology with gesture recognition. The goal of the technology is to minimize distractions on a driver’s attention. Will this technology work?
The Navdy technology uses simple technology to move mobile functions from the small screen of a phone to a display on the front wind shield, similar to a heads-up display with the added benefit of accessing information through gesture recognition. The technology can display the vehicle speed, directions, text messages and even the name of the song playing on the radio, all directly over the road in front of the driver. The technology is designed to prevent diversion of a driver’s gaze from the road.
The technology, developed by Navdy germinated from the company’s CEO, Doug Simpson who found it difficult to use a phone in the car and, “having one too many almost-accidents”. Current technology involves knobs, touch screens and buttons that take your eyes of the road, which according to Mr. Simpson, can result in a greater chance in having a collision.
The Navdy technology is is a work in progress and is currently being tested. The product consists of a two by five flip-up screen powered by a separate battery pack. Simply put it looks like a little projector that displays content from your cell phone and your vehicle’s computer, providing an eyes on the road experience instead of looking down to access information.
In terms of the optics, the screen itself was custom designed and provides a bright image which is programmed to pull directions from Google Maps thru an attached iPhone. In terms of the gesture recognition portion of the technology, Navdy has partnered with an image processing company. Challenges of the gesture recognition technology include the vehicle’s interior lighting conditions and how close the driver is to the device, factors that still need to be ironed out in the prototype phase. It is unknown how long it will take the company to move from its rough prototype to a finished product that will carry out all its capabilities including integration with car and phone data as well as gesture and voice recognition.
Distracted Driving Is About Control Behind The Wheel
Although these leaps and bounds in terms of technology are interesting and exciting, they still do not address the ultimate reason drivers are distracted when behind the wheel. It is the inability of a driver to concentrate simply on the task of driving, blocking out any and all other distractions, be it day dreaming or the learned behaviour to respond to cellphones whenever and wherever.
Young Drivers of Canada teaches its driver ed students how to stay focused on the road through its exclusive CogniFit program. Developed specifically for drivers, the program teaches its students how to control their brain activity during driving, ultimately preventing the actions associated with distracted driving. As part of the Young Drivers of Canada full course driver training program, the objective of the program is to determine a driver’s reaction time and their willingness to take risks while driving.
The CogniFit program is designed to train the brain’s activity to react to driving situations accurately when behind the wheel. An assessment portion, a training section and a progress report are incorporated to provide students with the resources to prevent actions that would result in a distracted driving situation. The goal of this exclusive program is to see where drivers are, and how through the course they improve in terms of their cognitive abilities. Although technology advances may suggest solutions to distracted driving, ultimately drivers are in control of their actions behind the wheel!