Your next car will be watching you

Here’s looking at you.
Here’s looking at you.
Image: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
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For years motorists have complained about surveillance from speed cameras and license-plate readers. The next frontier in keeping tabs on motorists will be tracking drivers’ eyes. GM will become the first major auto manufacturer to install eye-tracking capabilities in its cars, according to the Financial Times (paywall). Citing unnamed insiders, the paper says that GM will install around half a million cars with eye-tracking devices over the next three to five years.

Eye-tracking in cars is not a new idea. The technology GM is using us made by Seeing Machines, an Australian company. Its devices are already used in mining trucks, and it signed a deal to provide eye-tracking to a European long-distance bus operator late last year. But GM will be the first auto manufacturer to install the technology in mass-market consumer cars.

In addition to ensuring that drivers keep their eyes on the road, eye-tracking has other useful applications. It allows drivers to interact with their cars without taking their hands off the wheel. Tobii, a Swedish company that makes eye-tracking technology, envisions a future where car dashboards are supplemented with heads-up displays controlled merely by the gaze of the motorist.

GM already offers in-built internet connections (using 4G mobile broadband) on several Chevrolet models. It is likely that these will be the first to get eye-tracking. (GM declined to comment to the FT.)