(CBS News) Toyota is working on a mood-sensing electronics system that will be able to determine the emotions of the driver. The new system is planned as a safety measure that will customize a vehicle's safety alert times based on the driver's mood. Cameras mounted inside the cabin will be able to interpret a driver's face and react accordingly.
Sad or angry drivers can be distracted or have delayed reaction times, according to research conducted by the automaker. If Toyota's new technology senses a distracted driver, it will automatically adjust the vehicle's warning systems to give the driver more time to react, according to CNET. If the driver's expression is interpreted as neutral, the system will use standard alert times.
The emotion-sensing cameras will be able to judge a person's emotions based on one's position in the driver seat, as well as monitoring 238 points on the driver's face. The system will reportedly be able to determine emotion even if the driver's face is covered by sunglasses or a beard.
The Japanese company has been working on the technology since 2006, but the mood-sensing system is still years away from seeing production.
British car buying guide Whatcar.com quotes Jonas Ambeck, Toyota's senior manager of advanced technology, as saying, "The current, basic research should be complete within two to three years, so some of the elements could start to be available in around six years time. For non-vital applications some basic things could be available earlier though."
Toyota is not the only automaker using cameras to monitor drivers on the road. Audi is also testing distracted-driver detection technology. Similar to Toyota, the system will adjust warning systems based on how much attention the driver is paying, or not paying, to the road ahead.