Ford has teamed up with Intel to develop a prototype of what it calls “the future of in-car personalisation and mobile interior imaging technology” with its research project known as Mobile Interior Imaging or Project Mobii.
Perhaps the most immediately accessible feature is one that senses whether it is the driver or passenger reaching for the sat-nav. If it is the driver, he or she can only makes changes to guidance via voice control, while the passenger is able to type instructions onto the touchscreen.
If such a feature were mainstream, it would make it unnecessary to engineer sat-nav systems to go into lock mode when the car is moving.
Interior cameras are also paired with sensors that decipher simple gestures and voice commands are also fitted, meaning you can for example point at the sunroof, say “open”, and presto, let there be light.
Project Mobii features a number of ways to personalise the car’s cabin, and a smartphone app that allows remote surveillance of the cabin and can authorise or decline another driver to operate the vehicle via facial recognition software.
In developing the prototype, Ford research engineers shacked up with Intel ethnographers, anthropologists and engineers, one of whom — Intel Labs senior staffer Tim Plowman — asks in the video above: “What if you had the ability to peer into the car from anywhere in the world on your Intel phone?”
In other words, if you’ve forgotten to take something with you, the phone app will open up camera fitted to the car’s cabin and allow you to search around remotely. You might also get lucky and catch a thief red-handed.
A camera fitted above the instrument binnacle with facial-recognition software can also personalise specific information such as one’s schedule, music and contacts, the second it recognises you, as opposed to another registered driver.
This same system also allows you to permit or ban someone from driving your car. When an unfamiliar face hops behind the wheel, the system sends an image to the car’s owner and asks you to approve the driver — with further caveats available on what they are able to do.
The system allows you, for example, to give a person the green light to drive, but can stop the car from running if they have passengers, will only run for a certain time period, and will limit the top speed.
If an unwanted person is in the driver’s seat, the system monitors them and sends updates until they cease, presumably allowing you to forward to information to the authorities.
“Our goal with the Mobii research is to explore how drivers interact with technology in the car and how we can then make that interaction more intuitive and predictive,” said Ford chief technical officer and vice president for research and innovation Paul Mascarenas.
“The use of interior imaging is purely research at this point; however, the insights we’ve gained will help us shape the customer experience in the long-term.”