A father and son duo in Jerusalem has developed technology they say will allow drivers to control music, phone calls, messaging, and navigation in their car without taking their eyes off the road.
Many cars today have dashboard touchscreens that allow drivers to control various functions and methods of communication. These screens, though, can be a distraction and can lead to accidents.
Inpris, a six-person company founded in 2011 by Nissan Yaron and his father Ben-Etzion Yaron, aims to eliminate this problem through technology that understands what drivers want to do simply by following the direction of their fingers on the screen.
The company has developed a technology called the SIGHTLESS TOUCH, protected by seven patents in the US, China, and South Korea, that uses motion detection and voice control to activate commands for the car.
The product that stemmed from this technology, called InprisWay, is built into the hardware of the car. Within the technology, the driver can use two mediums: a shortcut system and a hybrid voice control system. The shortcut system is meant to be used to activate options the driver chooses frequently, like contacting frequently called people or navigating to frequently visited places.
With the shortcut system, the driver places three fingers on the dashboard screen. Each finger is preset to control a function: one controls the phone, one controls navigation, and one controls music.
To listen to music, for example, the driver leaves the “music finger” — set as the index finger — on the dashboard, and removes the middle and ring fingers.
Immediately, four radio station options preset by the driver pop up on the screen. For example, if the driver set “90s music” as the “up” option, it will always appear on the screen as the “up” option. The driver will then swipe up to listen to that radio station. Drivers can opt to also have a voice guide reminding them what the options are and which direction to swipe for each.
The navigation and phone features work the same way. The drivers leave the “navigation finger” or “phone finger” on the screen, and again four preset options appear. The drivers then only need to swipe in the direction (up, down, right, or left) of the desired option, and they are on their way home or calling their best friend.
The shortcut system gives drivers the ability to perform their most common tasks “in less than one second.” said Rona Kedmi, the chief marketing officer of Inpris.
For options besides the four preset ones, the driver can use the hybrid voice control system. First, the driver takes two fingers and swipes up, down, right, or left. Depending on which direction the driver swipes, the voice command will ask one of four questions.
For instance, if the driver swipes to the right, the voice will ask, “Who to call?”
If the driver swiped in one of the other three directions, the voice would ask, “Where to?” or “Which music to play?” or “Who to message?”
The technology aims to minimize the amount of talking the user needs to do, because often drivers who have voice command technology in their cars waste a lot of time trying to get the technology understand them, especially if there are children screaming or other loud noises in the car, said Kedmi. So, the questions asked by the voice command are short and direct, and the drivers need to answer in one or two words.
InprisWay differs from its competitors in that it does not require users to click specific buttons on the dashboard, as other systems do, said Kedmi. Its system is completely direction-based, so drivers can swipe anywhere on the screen and achieve the same result.
“Because in our system the driver doesn’t have to touch a specific area, he doesn’t have to look at [the dashboard],” Kedmi said. After a few times using the system, “it creates muscle memory, like playing piano” and the driver can fully concentrate on driving without looking at the screen.
Last May, Inpris signed an exclusive deal with a Chinese tech firm, Hardstone Mobile Media (Asia Pacific) Co., which is a Tier 1 supplier to car manufacturers to produce one million cars with InprisWay by April 2020, the company said.
Currently, there are about 6,000 cars on the road globally equipped with the technology, said Kedmi, some with InprisWay built into the hardware and others that had the technology installed after-market.