Ford moves toward facial recognition and gesture UI in the car

Ford moves toward facial recognition and gesture UI in the car

In its on-going work to innovate UI in motor vehicles, Ford has jointly announced a research project with Intel that could bring facial recognition and gestures to the next generation of automobiles.

Ford and Intel unveiled a joint research project on Wednesday called Mobile Interior Imaging, or "Project Mobii," to utilize interior cameras, facial recognition software, and data analytics to create a more personalized interaction between driver and vehicle.

"Mobii is a great example of culture of experimentation. I don't know what the user interface of the future is going to be. I know that increasingly, I've got sensors, cameras, technology,"  said Don Butler, who has been the executive director of connected vehicles and services for Ford since January. "So [we said] let's try to mash some stuff together and see what happens," Butler told ZDNet/TechRepublic.

Project Mobii is still in its experimental phase, but researchers are looking to use it to make the car's user interface experience more seamless and intuitive.

One use for the system: driver authentication. Once a driver enters the vehicle, a front-facing camera snaps a photo. If the driver is recognized, their personalized data -- such as contacts and music -- syncs to the vehicle. If they are not recognized, a photo is sent to the primary owner of the vehicle, and the owner can set restrictions or permissions from a smartphone. Also, if a child gets into a parent's vehicle, it could allow the parent to adjust music volume, speed limits, and phone access from afar.

The system could also be used to detect natural gestures and simple voice commands to adjust the systems and controls in the car. For example, speaking a voice command to change the temperature or waving a hand to open the sunroof instead of pressing a button.

Intel anthropologists and engineers collaborated with Ford to develop facial recognition software and perceptual computing technology for the system.


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