Like other driver distraction systems under development or in use, the Toyota system uses in-vehicle cameras directed at the driver's face. However, the Toyota system takes facial recognition beyond sensing whether a driver is fatigued, for example.
Using a sophisticated facial recognition algorithm that analyzes 238 points on a driver's face, the Toyota system is able to use that information to determine whether a driver is sad, angry, happy or neutral.
According to Toyot's researchers, a driver who is not in an optimal mood may be more distracted and will likely respond more slowly to a potential crash. The car's safety systems will automatically compensate for this activating sooner in an emergency, or by giving a driver an audio alert to help keep them focused on the driving task ahead of any potential mishap.
Toyot's senior manager of advanced technology, Jonas Ambeck, says the company has been developing facial recognition technology since 2006. Its research phase will conclude in the next two to three years and with a system utilizing the technology in Toyotas appearing on the market in around six years.