It’s a grave understatement to say that modern infotainment systems are distracting. Massive bright screens with colorful graphics: how could they not be distracting? Well BMW seems to be thinking about a new technology, one that can help prevent drivers from being distracted. In a new patent filing found by CarBuzz, BMW seems to be looking to a tech that would actually shut the screens off if the driver looks at them for too long.
Cameras will track the driver’s eyes and if they’re looking at screens in areas they shouldn’t for too long, the car will temporarily shut the screen off. Not only will that make the driver look back at the road, because the screen will turn off, it will eventually make drivers stop looking because they know it will turn off eventually.
Even more than that, it will likely annoy passengers. If the screens keep turning off while the passenger is trying to use them, then they’ll likely get annoyed with the driver and pressure them to stop. So it could work on several different levels.
Admittedly, this is more for when passengers are watching videos on the infotainment screen, or messing with something more distracting than just the screen’s normal UI. It also might be for the future, when cars will have even more, larger screens, such as on the dashboard for the passenger. So if the front passenger decides to fire up a movie on their own dedicated screen and the driver keeps glancing over, the car will shut it off temporarily until the driver looks back at the road. If you keep interrupting the passenger’s show, you’re likely going to get an earful.
It’s an interesting technology and one that actually makes quite a bit of sense. There’s really no reason why anyone should be looking at any screen other than the gauge cluster for longer than a few seconds while driving. So I’m all for this technology and think it should be implemented on all main screens in the car, save for the gauge cluster. It should be on the iDrive 8 screen (and all subsequent systems) and other other front seat display that may be added in the future.
This is also BMW telling on itself a bit. It doesn’t want drivers to watch a video for more than ten seconds but it will gladly make the climate controls so appallingly bad that it takes double that to change the air vent direction.