Magna International is the latest company to join the driver monitoring system market.
Automakers are rapidly rolling out cabin-monitoring technology to detect when a driver's head, eye and body movement signal that he is not focused on the road.
The new applications include Ford, Cadillac, Subaru and BMW vehicles.
As incidents related to driver inattention make headlines, some policymakers are even introducing legislation to require driver monitoring technologies in vehicles.
In April, Magna International introduced a monitoring system that combines electronics with advanced driver-assistance systems to warn drivers when they appear to be inattentive, when their eyes have been off the road for too long or upon sensing that their gaze isn't focused on driving, said Sharath Reddy, senior vice president of Magna Electronics.
Though Magna arrives in the segment somewhat later than its competitors, the company is combining the technology with a suite of other interior monitoring features, such as child presence detection and seat belt detection.
"We are logically extending our processing capability and expertise into the driver monitoring system," Reddy told Automotive News. "Even though we are a bit late compared to the competition, the market is still evolving. We wanted to watch how the market and technology is progressing and enter at the right time."
Magna's concern was making sure the technology is not intrusive to the driver, but also gets the best view of drivers to make reasonable evaluations of their level of distraction.
"If the system is too sensitive, then it may cause the driver to disengage the system," Reddy said.
The camera and electronic control unit of Magna's driver monitoring technology can be integrated into an existing vehicle structure, such as an interior mirror, to provide vehicle packaging savings. Or the system can be installed in a cabin in a way that's not visible to the driver.
But a key part of the technology is its software. Ultimately, Magna points out, it is the system's algorithms and processing capability that judge whether a driver is distracted, not merely its camera.