It used to be, the inside of your car was kind of your last private sanctuary.
If things were nuts at work, crazy at home, you could always get in the car, go for a drive, and you were kind of in your little island.
No, not anymore, cars are now connected devices, on the Internet and on the road.
And increasingly, the insides of cars are being monitored.
One of the newest wrinkles now is radar in the car.
Texas Instruments has been showing an interesting new module that uses millimeter wave radar, very high frequency radar.
And it beams around inside the car To find out who is where, it's looking for objects and masses.
Is there an adult here, is there a kid in the back, is that a dog moving around back there?
Did someone get in or out of one of the seats?
One of the interesting things about radar that makes it apparently better than cameras is that it can see through many things in a car, where a camera is blocked by anything solid, a seat, a headrest, what have you.
Vayyar and Carrasis are also among companies that are big on millimeter wave radar.
Using the tech to detect and classify occupants, monitor their respiration by minute body movements, and do facial monitoring to spot distraction or drowsiness.
Now Avaya is also working with auto mechatronics company Brose to create car doors that use radar to sense obstacles outside your vehicle and prevent themselves from being swung open on a pole, or on my car.
And that same core tech could be used to detect passenger orientation in future self-driving cars, which may not always be facing forward.
And then configure the car's passive safety systems, like airbags, to deploy for the way you're actually sitting in case of a crash.
It all started with drowsiness detection systems, Volvo, Mercedes, Honda, among the car companies that do these.
And then We would look at pretty rudimentary inputs.
Typically, what you're doing with the steering wheel as you get drowsy, their logic found out, you kinda start to do less with the wheel, or do it in a certain pattern, that's a sleepy-person pattern.
Well, that's pretty crude.
The next way it is to move, To cameras.
Now we're seeing car makers monitor your face, certainly your eyes.
Where are you looking?
How wide open are your eyes?
What's your blink rate?
How long do you look away from the road?
Cadillac Supercruise, for example, was one of the first to use that to help autonomy.
Finally, there's the role of sensing gestures.
In car gesture control has been a joke so far.
With a few big, crude gestures that don't even work all the time.
But Google's Project Soli uses millimeter wave radar to pick up on micro-gestures with nuance that could finally liberate controls from today's screens, knobs and voice into a fourth sensing dimension that works better than all of those.