Belfast Telegraph

Jaguar Land Rover testing car that can 'read your mind'

Hi-tech systems to monitor a car driver's stress, fatigue and concentration levels are being tested by Jaguar Land Rover (JLR).

The company wants to see if a car can effectively read the brainwaves that indicate if a driver is beginning to daydream or feeling sleepy.

JLR is also developing a seat in a Jaguar XJ which analyses the driver's heart rate and breathing to indicate their health and stress levels.

In addition, the company is working on technology which will provide touchscreens that predict which in-car entertainment button drivers want to press even as their fingers are in mid-air - thus minimising the time spent with eyes off the road.

On the brainwave reading, JLR said it was investigating a method already used by American space agency Nasa to develop a pilot's concentration skills and also by the US bobsleigh team to enhance concentration and focus.

This detects brainwaves through the hands via sensors embedded in the steering wheel. JLR is currently conducting user trials to collect more information on the different brainwaves identified through the steering wheel sensors and will involve leading neuroscientists in the project to verify the results.

The seat sensor, for monitoring a driver's wellbeing, was originally developed for use in hospitals and has been adapted for in-car use and detects vibrations from the driver's heartbeat and breathing.

Monitoring the physical health of the driver could not only detect the onset of sudden and serious illness that may incapacitate the driver, but also allow the car to monitor driver stress levels.

This would then allow the car to help reduce stress, for example by changing mood lighting, audio settings and climate control.

For the "mid-air" touchscreen technology the company is working on technology that provide the driver with a sensation, otherwise known as haptic feedback, that their button selection has been successful.

Mid-air touch uses ultrasonics to create a touch sensation in mid-air without the skin needing to be in contact with any surface. The sensations could include a "tap" on your finger or a "tingling" on your fingertips.

As touch provides an immediate response to the brain, there will be no need for the driver to glance at the screen for visual confirmation which would help keep their gaze on the road ahead.

Haptics could also be used to communicate with the driver through the accelerator pedal to increase the speed of response and to ensure the correct action is taken.

This could lead to drivers being able to "feel" through the pedal whether they are going through the speed limit or likely to bump into the car in front while crawling in traffic.

Belfast Telegraph Digital