Distracted driving causes approximately 25 percent of all car crash fatalities in the U.S., according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI). In 2013 alone, it tragically claimed the lives of more than 3,154 and injured 424,000. Now, each day in the United States about nine people are killed by an inattentive person behind the wheel.
EyeSight, a Tel Aviv, Israel-based artificial intelligence (AI) and hardware startup, promises to eradicate the distracted driving problem once and for all — at least in cars equipped with its hardware. To further that mission, it today announced a $15 million funding round led by Jebsen Capital, with participation from Arie Capital and Mizrahi Tefahot.
EyeSight’s tech leans on a combination of cameras and artificial intelligence to monitor driver activity. It tracks their gaze direction, eye openness, and head position; uses low-power algorithms to detect levels of drowsiness and distraction; and measures pupil dilation, a reliable indicator of drug or alcohol use.
In addition to keeping tabs on drivers, EyeSight’s tech scans the entire car — including backseat passengers — and triggers alarms if, for example, a baby’s accidentally left alone. Thanks to facial recognition and integration with OEM platforms, the platform’s able to personalize the in-car experience by adjusting the driver’s seat and mirrors, selecting music playlists, and more.
EyeSight’s not the only one taking on in-car monitoring, of course.
Affectiva in March announced the launch of an emotion-tracking AI system for drivers in autonomous vehicles. In January, Toyota unveiled a concept car that uses AI to understand driving patterns, schedules, emotion, and other data points. And Tel Aviv startup Guardian Optical recently debuted a camera technology that can detect in-car motion down to the micrometer.
EyeSight, for its part, says it has partnerships with “brand-name” automobile manufacturers who’ve agreed to integrate its platform into new vehicles. SEAT became the first to publicly demonstrate the platform at Mobile World Congress 2018 in Barcelona in February with the Leon Cristobal, which audibly alerts drivers when it detects they’re too distracted or drowsy to drive. And Chinese auto parts company Soling earlier this year announced a collaboration with EyeSight that’ll see its vehicle safety systems gain computer vision smarts.
In-car monitoring is just one of the areas EyeSight’s targeting with AI. At the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, it revealed new hand and finger gestures for the second generation of its Singlecue gesture-recognition technology, which enables users to control connected devices with a palm push, finger pinch, and hand wave.
EyeSight has also experimented with virtual reality (VR). Its computer vision platform gives VR headsets and augmented reality (AR) glasses touch-free controls; users can interact with virtual scenes without gloves by lifting a finger or hand and moving it in the air.
Earlier this year, EyeSight announced that Sony will integrate one of its software products into its Xperia Touch projector, enabling both touch-enabled and touch-free interactions. Separately, EyeSight’s worked with TV, cellphone, and remote control manufacturers to bring its gesture technology to new form factors.
EyeSight was founded in 2005 and has raised more than $30 million to date. In September, it nabbed a $20 million investment from Shenzhen, China-based Kuang-Chi as a part of the investment firm’s pledge to invest $300 million in Israeli tech startups.