Several months ago, we were sitting in our office daydreaming about what the next great innovation in cars would be. Some of us in the office had been talking about how many of the great technologies from the past decade are becoming more ubiquitous. Things like push-button start, keyless entry, and rain-sensing windshield wipers. It seems like Head Up Displays are going to be the next big push, and that got us thinking about a technology we hadn’t yet heard of in automobiles: facial recognition.
Think about it. All you would have to do is sit down in the vehicle, and a camera mounted in the dashboard will scan your face and start the car if it recognizes you. The system could function as an anti-theft measure, refusing to start for faces that aren’t part of the system. It could be a parental control function, used to limit functions in the car if it detects your teenager. There are certainly a whole host of apps that could make use of the system, too.
Time passes and then last month we hear that Ford is working on a system very similar to the one we thought of, which makes us wonder… is our office bugged? We know the government reads our emails and such, but maybe Ford is ahead of the curve.
In any case, they’re working on technology that would be the next step up from their MyKey programmable fobs. They call it Mobii – we would not have called it Mobii – and it combines a number of the facial recognition features we mentioned along with gesture controls to give you a tighter yet more relaxed grip on the inner workings of your automobile.
With a fully realized Mobii, you can pair the system with your phone and authorize startup for your spouse or offspring via a mobile app. The same mobile app can be used to periodically check in on the driver of the car – just in case you want to go full Ingsoc on your family. More practical uses for Mobii will include a combination of voice commands and gestures to do things like opening your sunroof. Ford has even conceived of it as a safety measure by using the camera to block the driver’s access to the car’s touchscreen while the vehicle is in motion.
Mobii is still in the experimental stages at this point, so there’s nothing more concrete as to when we might see a system like this in a production car. Next year’s Consumer Electronics Show might be a good place to look for it. Until then, if you’re curious about MyKey technology, come into Leith Ford in Wendell and ask one of our sales reps for more information.