Until now, designing infotainment controls has been a hit-or-miss affair for automakers and suppliers.
Denso International America is turning it into a science. Ron Schubert, the company's director of body components and safety, says the Japanese supplier is studying motorists' biological indicators.
Denso, which supplies infotainment systems, wants to help automakers figure out how to make the controls more user-friendly.
Researchers are measuring perspiration, brain waves, eye gaze, heart rate and blood pressure to determine the most reliable indicators of a motorist's mental state.
Once Denso identifies the best indicators of agitation, fatigue or distraction, Schubert says the company will figure out how to measure these biometrics when the subject is behind the wheel.
And that's the tricky part: Denso's researchers don't want to hook the driver up to a jungle of electrodes, Schubert says. The driving experience has to be natural.
Denso is working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Iowa to develop these biometric tools.
Once they figure out how to do this, they can better decide which infotainment features are dangerous distractions.
This project is on the bleeding edge of scientific inquiry. But it may give us some groundbreaking insights into driver distraction.