Slow drivers, tailgaters, lane cutters - they're all fuel for road rage. While motorists may feel justified slamming the steering wheel, flipping the bird or swearing a blue streak, this kind of irritation makes drivers more aggressive and less attentive.
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However, researchers from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne teamed up with PSA Peugeot Citroen to create a on-board emotion reader using facial recognition technology. The prototype succeeded in detecting irritation, paving the way for promising safety applications down the road.
Researchers from the institute's Signal Processing 5 Laboratory (LTS5) developed the device by placing an infrared camera behind the steering wheel. Combined with facial-recognition software, the system tracked two expressions - anger and disgust - by first "learning" to detect the emotions through a series of photographs. Once a base-level algorithm was established, the system was used in real-life, in-car situations.
The system also included a fatigue detector that tracks eyelid closure. Additionally, researchers are working on applications that can identify distraction and lip movements for vocal recognition. Eventually, researchers want to increase emotion recognition times until the system works in real time.
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In the meantime, take a few deep breathes or count to ten next time some maniac cuts you off in traffic. Or else make sure your car stereo playlist includes at least a few soothing bossa nova tracks off of Getz/Gilberto.
Credit: EPFL-LTS5, PSA