Towards contextual audio alerts for motorists

Ford is lab testing new audio alerts for motorists. — AFP Relaxnews

American automaker Ford is currently working on developing audio alerts that can help drivers identify the nature and location of hazards in order to anticipate any necessary action and avoid potential collisions.

These alerts are intelligent alerts, in that they are contextualised. For example, Ford wants to use sounds like footsteps or a bicycle bell to signal the presence of pedestrians or cyclists in the vicinity. For the moment, these tests are only taking place in the automaker’s laboratory.

With the help of specific speakers, the sound is sent to the left or to the right, in front or behind the driver, so that they can anticipate any action required. According to Ford, these first tests have been highly positive: in three quarters of cases, drivers perfectly identify what the hazard was and where it was coming from.

The next step will be to improve the spatial audio rendering, to get closer to the quality currently experienced in movie theaters or video games.

Audio alerts already exist to help draw drivers’ attention to certain things. However, this new directional audio technology would be much more precise, indicating both the nature of the danger and signalling where it is coming from.

However, this should be no substitute for the constant vigilance required by motorists on the road. – AFP Relaxnews

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