Driver distraction is dangerous, thus it makes sense that General Motors is planning technology to keep an eye on drivers' attention span.
According to the Financial Times, GM has contracted Australian company Seeing Machines to create tracking devices for over 500,000 cars over the next few years. Seeing Machines has in turn, signed a deal with Takata to make said devices.
What will these devices do? Watch you as you drive, of course. Looking at your rear view mirror instead of what's in front of you, and you'll be prompted. All this will be done by simply checking on how far your head is rotating from its ideal position.
Eyes on the wheel, please
The camera rigs required for the tracking machines to work could be used for other things besides telling you you're a bad driver. You could use the cameras as a way of driver identity so unauthorised drivers won't be able to just take off with the car anymore.
Even the frequency of eyeblinks can be detected by the upcoming devices, which will help alert drivers who could be falling asleep at the wheel. Though it still won't be wise for you to attempt to drive when you're too tired or inebriated, of course.
But what about privacy? While the devices are not designed to store information (as yet), you still have to wonder whether the footage captured could be tapped into remotely or if GM could be playing 'Big Brother' inadvertently (or on purpose).
Mind you, this is not new tech. Lexus has its own Driver Monitor system to watch driver's eyelids, while Mercedes-Benz uses its Attention Assist to also pick up on vital signs the driver could be too tired to drive carefully. Said signs include steering behavior and the use (or lack) of turn signals.
When you don't have someone to keep you company on long, tiring drives, a technology assist just might be the next best thing to help keep drivers safe.