Auto Tech

This future dashboard knows if you're talking on the phone

Keep at it long enough and it'll even pull the car over.

Tim Stevens/Roadshow

Believe it or not a major challenge in the development of autonomous cars is not enabling the car to figure out what's going on around it, but finding a way for the car to figure out what's happening inside it. Specifically, cars will need to determine whether the driver behind the wheel is alert and paying attention to the road. For the near-future of autonomy, at least, cars won't be able to drive themselves 100 percent of the time, so the driver will need to take control should something unforeseen happen.

Many auto manufacturers are addressing this issue in many ways, including retinal scanners that can tell where you're looking and heart-rate monitors that can tell if you're getting a bit sleepy. At this year's CEATEC 2017 in Japan, component manufacturer Omron was showing off an implementation of a series of sensors that take that detection to the next level.

Omron's latest solution, an improvement over last year's, includes the eye monitoring and sleepiness detection that we've seen in the past, but adds a few new flavors to the mix. For one thing, its infrared scanners can see through sunglasses, meaning even if your future is looking particularly bright the car will still be able to tell whether your eyes are open.

Additionally, the future dashboard can tell if you're holding a phone up to your head and talking on it. This, of course, is illegal most places these days and is grounds for deeming that you're of questionable alertness.

Should you drive the car in a non-alert state, or perhaps fall asleep while the car is in autonomous mode, the car will attempt to warn you before, eventually, pulling itself over. So, if you want to get anywhere, you'd better keep those eyes on the road.