Seeing Machines camera in Jaguar F-Type at CES
The camera, located above the steering wheel, monitors the driver's eyes to make sure they are awake and alert Steven Lewis / Seeing Machines

Cars of the future will be looking to the road ahead as much as at their driver's face, as vehicles learn to recognise tired and distracted drivers.

The dashboard-mounted camera capable of this is similar to an Xbox Kinect and constantly analyses the driver's face and eye movement to make sure they aren't distracted or falling asleep at the wheel.

Developed by Seeing Machines and shown off inside a Jaguar F-Type on the Intel stand at CES, the system is the first to take input from both the road ahead and the driver's actions. By looking at the driver, it knows the difference between accidentally drifting out of lane and a deliberate lane change, overriding an alert the car may have otherwise sounded.

"We're trying to talk about the vehicle of the future Nick Langdale-Smith, Seeing Machines' vice president for company partnerships, told IBTimes UK. "This means outward facing sensors for collision detection, but also inward facing sensors for monitoring the driver and using that information to allow the car to make much smarter decisions and reduce the number of annoying warnings you get."

But more than just reducing annoying warning sounds, the Seeing Machines system, which has been demonstrated to car makers the world over, can use driver eye movement to adjust controls for the stereo and heating. The driver could simply glance at a control to use it, rather than reach down with their hand, and the camera could also be used to adjust the car's head-up display so it is always projected into your line of sight.

"I think we're really just scratching the surface of what's possible when it comes to getting an understanding of the driver," Langdale-Smith said, adding: "While collision and pedestrian detection systems have been available for some time, there's never been a union of that and what's going on inside the cockpit to make the whole experience safer."

Your car becoming your FitBit

By analysing a driver's face and skin, the camera can monitor heart rate and could in future offer an early warning for changes in the driver's health.

A car "becoming your FitBit [a popular fitness tracking device] and tapping into your phone's health monitoring system, that's certainly possible down the track and will be driven by demand," Langdale-Smith said, adding his company is "very much thinking about that as that's certainly an interest."