Getting bleary-eyed from staring at the road on a long car trip? Pioneer’s new navigation technology provides an extra set of eyes. Called the Image Recognition Car Navigation System, it combines a traditional GPS nav system with a video camera and software that analyzes the scene ahead to provide better directions, warnings, and even suggestions for a more scenic route.
Instead of showing just a digital map, as in other GPS systems, Pioneer’s prototype technology displays live video of the road ahead with information superimposed. For example, it adds an arrow to show you exactly where an upcoming turn is—say, just behind the McDonald’s sign that’s obscuring your view. It can also tell you the distance to a car ahead—by measuring how large it appears—and warn you when you get too close. And it watches the road lines to make sure you don’t drift out of your lane.
Best of all for people on long, dull road trips, the system
analyzes the view to decide how interesting it is. Lots of sky and flat,
featureless terrain ahead? The computer recognizes that as dull, and suggests a
more interesting way to go.
Like many technologies debuting at the CEATEC show outside Tokyo this week, the Image Recognition Car Navigation System is still just a cool concept without a firm date to become a real product. So, for the next few years, you might still need that extra cup of coffee, and maybe a carbon-based co-pilot to help out on long drives.—Sean Captain