Will they save your lives or rat you out?

Volvo has decided to offer a driver-facing camera in its cars within the next one year, citing it as a safety feature. With privacy being a real issue these days and AI intruding the personal space, is this a wise move? Also, how are the introverts and camera-conscious people supposed to drive with camera staring at their face at the all time?

Volvo Driver-Focused Camera

Volvo to Offer Driver-Focus Cameras - Does the Concept Threaten Our Privacy?
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Volvo is planning to introduce new driver-focused, in-car cameras as an option for select 2019 model-year vehicles. This has not been well-received so far and, in fact, U.K’s Car magazine straight-up calls them spy cameras. The publication reports that, according to Volvo’s Chief Digital Officer, Atif Rafiq, the cameras will be launched within the next 12 months, and said they “can determine a driver’s glucose levels by looking at their pupils." In theory, it could automatically call a loved one or hospital if it detected a health problem.

Is It Glass Half-Full Or Glass Half-Empty?

So basically, Volvo is selling this idea as a type of safety system that monitors the driver and driver behavior. Based on what the camera sees, the car can then take steps to de-stress an agitated driver. Does it play ‘Pure Shores’ by All Saints?

Anyway, Volvo has toyed around with this idea in the past in its Drive Me program for developing and testing autonomous vehicle systems.

If you disregard the privacy aspect for a second, the camera can actually prove to be a life-saving feature when it detects any untoward behavior behind the wheel such as a medical emergency or a sleepy driver. In the right conditions, it could even engage self-drive systems to safely steer your car off the road and out of danger.

Volvo’s Driver-Focused Camera to Remain an Option for Now

Volvo to Offer Driver-Focus Cameras - Does the Concept Threaten Our Privacy?
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Volvo mentioned another use for driver-facing cameras - facial recognition.

With the driver in the car, the camera could identify the specific person and adjust vehicle settings accordingly, everything from seat and mirror positions to temperature preferences and app settings.

The publication also mentions that the information recorded is rendered non-specific and not shared outside the car, but how sure can you be about it? Let this not lure you into believing this is a great feature. Remember the movie Speed? Even in 1994, the driver-facing camera would have killed Annie, and the other passengers had it not been for Jack spotting the camera!

Our Take

With most of the things working on IoT technologies, this is a major safety concern for obvious reasons. Although it seems like a noble thought from the safety pioneer of the automotive industry, we would suggest not to opt for it when the technology arrives. There are many other ways to stay awake, and people have been doing that since the Ford Model T was made available to the masses in 1908.

Further reading

2019 Volvo S60 Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Volvo S60.

Source: CarMagazine

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