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How do you feel about your car knowing how you are feeling?

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So we have all felt that moment of rage on the road! Some person cuts you up while you are trying to change lanes, and the next thing you know you are shouting and driving way to close to the tail end of their vehicle! The car in front then hits their brakes… “Crash! Bang!”… In that moment you lose your no-claim bonus with your insurance company.

What if an on-board emotion detection system could tell that you are getting frustrated and actually intervene?

PSA Peugeot Citroen has joined forces with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) to develop a truly futuristic emotion detection system designed to recognise signs of irritation and fatigue in a driver’s facial expressions.

Facial expression technology and software have been used widely on applications that have forms of depression and autism, to market research and forward brand development. The research team at EPFL’s Signal Processing 5 Laboratory (LTS5), specialise in facial detection, monitoring and analysis, and are now exploring applications from the motor industry.

Through this research ‘irritation’ has been identified as one of the key factors in drivers becoming aggressive. Facial expression reading software will identify seven universal emotions:


Though everyone displays their irritation behind the wheel differently, researchers at LTS5, Hua Gao and Anil Yüce, concentrated on two of these emotions, which are anger and disgust. The reasoning behind this are that these two emotions have been accepted as being similar to irritation.

How your car will get to know you better?

First things first, the designed system was given a series of control inputs, including still images of the subjects in both an office environment and in real life situations, such as being behind the wheel. This was done so that the system could learn to read the emotions under review. The next stage used an infrared camera that was mounted behind the steering wheel of the vehicle, a video was then taken and later processed using facial monitoring algorithms.

"The rapidity with which the comparison between filmed images and thus detection could be carried out depended on the analysis methods used," said Hua Gao of EPFL. "But overall, the system worked well and irritation could be accurately detected in the majority of cases."

There were difficulties in detection of irritation that were put down to the complexity and variety of expressions shown. As everyone displays irritation slightly differently.

"When the test failed, it was usually because this state is very variable from individual to individual," Hua Gao continued. "This is where the difficulty will always lie, given the diversity of how we express anger."

The expert team also tested a fatigue detector, which is designed to measure the percentage of eyelid closure. Future plans for this project will also include using voice recognition or lip reading technology, and reading other driver states, such as distraction.

What is the next step for EPFL?

EPFL is testing the system in real-time using a more innovative facial monitoring algorithm. This being said, EPFL and PSA Peugeot Citroen have not as yet revealed how this technology would be applied.

We will just have to wait to find out more?

Let us know your thoughts!

Source: EPFL

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Posted on 19th August 2014 at 11:22 AM

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