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    Reducing Driver Distractions in Vehicles Through 3d Gesture Recognition

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    Motor vehicle developers are increasingly looking for future technologies to reduce vehicle operators’ distractions while driving, this is done by implementing functional safety technologies in vehicles. Here 3D gesture recognition will revolutionize the way people interact with their vehicles. It will enable drivers to do various actions within the vehicle while still keeping their full concentration on the road. This will assist in decreasing the possibility of accidents on the road.

    Road traffic in Europe accounts for more than 90 [%] of passenger transport. This is a significant number of motorized vehicles that travel within the borders of their own counties as well as travel over these borders into foreign countries within the European Union. Since the opening of the borders in Europe through signing the Schengen agreement on the 14th of June 1985, it has become easier to travel longer distance by motorized vehicle.

    This is because internal border control was largely abolished. This leads to traffic safety being a crucial part of road traffic and needs to be seen as extremely import. Especially the in-vehicle controls that might distract people while driving in areas that they are unfamiliar with. Trying to make calls or operating navigational systems while driving can have detrimental effects for both driver, passengers and other road users.

    If all modes of transport are taken into account road traffic is statistically the most dangerous mode of transport, causing 96 [%] of fatalities when all transport modes are compared. Road safety needs to be a prime concern for people in Europe as well as law maker, and motor vehicle manufacturers.

    This means that stricter traffic safety measures need to be implemented in the vehicles themselves. Some of the factors that need to be amended are increasing the regulations on traffic safety as well as using all available technologies specifically the in vehicle safety systems to reach the goal of making the roads as safe as possible for all the road users.

    The main causes for traffic accidents are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, inattention and excessive speed. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and speeding can be regulated by technology but people will find a way past these regulations and keep doing it. But the inattention in vehicles can be regulated if it is made easier for drivers of vehicles to operate things within their vehicles and do so safely. This step to improve safety will most likely be accepted by the majority of vehicle operators as this will enhance their driving experience.

    Problem Definition

    More and more vehicles drive on the roads, and the numbers keep on rising steeply. As well as vehicles becoming more and more complex with an array of different in-vehicle systems that the driver can use, there is an increasing risk of drivers being distracted from their main task which is driving the vehicle.

    Therefore, it is imperative that safer systems are designed to decrease that possibility of drivers getting distracted for increased periods of time while driving. By removing the need for drivers to break their line of sight of the road and therefore losing their concentration, 3D gesture control which uses normal movements that humans are used to, to operate the in-vehicle systems.


    This paper is based on studying an array of different literature. This mainly includes statistics from Eurostat and Statista, as well as various websites and papers on the topic. To improve the safety in road traffic future technologies will play a crucial role. This technology is still in the development stage and has not been rolled out onto the market, therefore most of the information within this paper is possibilities of how this system can increase the traffic safety.


    Many Human Machine Interface (HMI) designers are turning to gesture recognition as a solution to improve driver and vehicle safety without sacrificing interior design, adding features that allow drivers to easily control everything from switching on lights to answering phone calls and operating the navigation and infotainment systems while focusing on the road. [1]

    As the functionality of cars increase so does the danger of drivers being distracted by it while driving. This is because drivers try to concentrate on their main task which is driving as well as secondary functions which is controlling functions within the car which is not driving related. The logical consequence is that there are resulting issues of traffic safety as the driver will be distracted by the secondary functions and not be fully concentrated in the road while operating the vehicle. [2]

    Driving can be a distracting affair, but if you add to the mix things like drivers checking their latest text message, adjusting the Satellite Navigation or turning the volume knob on the radio, there will be a potential for accidents to occur. A 3D gesture-controlled car is the next logical step for improving driver and passenger safety because it decreases driver disruption from the road, as the driver will no longer have to search and reach out for buttons and dials that fall below their driving line of vision. [3]

    Illustrated in Figure 1 are the main causes for distractions in road traffic, these distractions often lead to accidents, these might get people injured or even killed. It is clearly seen that in-vehicle technology and phoning are two of the biggest distractions while driving. That is why it is imperative for in vehicle safety to be a main concern. 3D gesture recognition could help with this as it would reduce the risks of in-vehicle distractions enormously.

    If all modes of transport are taken into account road traffic is statistically the most dangerous mode of transport. Road safety needs to be a prime concern for people in Europe. This means that stricter traffic safety measures need to be implemented. Some of the factors that need to be included are increasing the regulations on traffic safety as well as using all available technologies to reach the goal of making the roads as safe as possible for all the road users.

    Figure 2 depicts the fatalities of the different transport modes for the year 2015. It is clear to see that road accidents are by far the largest contributor of fatalities across all transport modes. In concrete figures road accidents were responsible for 96 [%] of fatalities with the closest competitor being rail with 3 [%], aviation and maritime together makes up the remaining 1 [%] in the year 2015. A lot of these fatalities as well as serious injuries to road users were caused by inattention inside the vehicle while drivers were busy changing or operating something within the vehicle.

    In the future, rather than having to fiddle with touchscreens, buttons and joy sticks as the current systems in cars function, people will to be able to control their cars functions simply with hand gestures. Efforts are underway at car companies to integrate 3D gestures with voice commands so that people can literally control their vehicles without having to take their eyes off the road. [4]

    3D Gesture recognition to Natural user interface (NUI) is touch-less gesture control which allows manipulating virtual objects in a way similar to physical ones. It completely removes the dependency on any mechanical devices, thus there is no need to physically operate any systems within the vehicle. [5]

    While existing solutions such as infrared and time-of-flight technologies can be costly and operate poorly in bright or direct sunlight, 3D Gesture recognition offers reliable sensing in full sunlight and harsh environments. Other solutions on the market also come with physical constraints and require significant infrastructure and space to be integrated in a vehicle. 3D Gesture recognition is compatible with ergonomic interior designs and enables HMI designers to innovate with fewer physical constraints, as the sensor can be any conductive material and hidden from view.

    As illustrated in Figure 3 the technology uses a minimum number of four receivers (Rx) electrodes to detect the Electromagnetic-field variations at different positions to measure the origin of the electric field distortion form the varying signals received. The information is used to calculate the position, track movements, and classify movement patterns. 3D Gesture recognition technology uses five transmit (Tx) frequencies: 42, 23, 45 and 100 kilo Herz (kHz). [6]

    It uses a Hidden Markov Model (HMM)-based gesture-recognition engine with x/y/z hand position tracking such as pointing, waving, flicking and circular motions. Through this it can perform a wide variety of input commands without the need of the driver having to touch the device. [6]

    It also uses approach detection, where the technology can go into a sleep mode which saves energy, which makes it use much less energy, thereby making it suitable for using in electrically powered vehicles. When the driver of passenger enters the sensing area the technology wakes up and is ready for use in a very short time. The system is also engineered to not interfere with other electromagnetic interfaces and adheres to the strictest electromagnetic compatibility requirements for the automotive systems design. [5]

    This system is in the conceptional stage and is being tested in the premium versions of the BMW 7 series models. In the BMW models the system will be known as the iDrive system. The new iDrive gesture control system that allows the driver and front passenger to control the car’s navigation, entertainment, and connectivity functions with three-dimensional gestures made with a flat hand

    Using sensors installed in the instrument dashboard, iDrive activates the motion recognition software on a large panorama display. The driver or front passenger can navigate the interface using basic hand gestures without the need to touch the display.

    Actions are confirmed via one of two concealed iDrive buttons: one on the left rim of the steering wheel for the driver’s use and one located on the side sill in the passenger door. iDrive also reduces the number of steps needed to perform any action by intuitively bringing up what it thinks the next step will be. For example, when activating the phone pad, the system automatically brings up contacts or call lists to the top select level so that a call can be made with just one further action. [8]

    Conclusions and Outlook

    The ability to develop future multimodal systems depends on the knowledge of natural integration patterns that typify people’s combined use of different input modes. Given the complex nature of user’s multimodal interaction, cognitive science will play an essential role in guiding the design of robust multimodal systems

    3D gesture recognition can provide an interesting alternative to the manual tactile controls that people are used to in vehicles. It will increase the comfort of driving and increase the usability of complex drivers’ systems, while ensuring that the drives do so safely as they are able to keep their eyes and full concentration on the road while executing these commands.

    3D gesture recognition is faster and more efficient than manually changing these settings. Analog settings, like setting music volume, navigation, switching lights on and off and answering calls can comfortably get done with continuous gestures. This will become necessary in the future as in-vehicle systems become more and more complex ,meaning that there are much more distractions for the drivers of the vehicles.

    In the future, rather than having to fiddle with touchscreens, buttons and joy sticks as the current systems in cars function, people will to be able to control their cars functions simply with hand gestures. There are solutions on the market now that are able to do these functions but these only function under certain conditions. This means that is the conditions are not optimal the driver has to revert back to manual adjustment of control panels, this greatly defers the point of this technology.

    The new 3D Gesture Recognition technology does not have this shortcoming and functions under all conditions making it a safer way to operate the different instruments in a vehicle while keeping the drivers’ full concentration on the road. This technology therefore has the ability to improve traffic safety drastically.


    1. A. Chandler, „Microchip,“ Microchip, 10 July 2018. [Online]. Available: [Acessed on 14 November 2018].
    2. J. Yannick , M. Sotiris , M. Fabien , L. Gautam und P. Laetitia , „Hand gesture ecognition for driver vehicle interaction. IEEE Computer Society Workshop on Observing and understanding hands in action (Hands 2015) of 28th IEEE conf. on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR’2015),“ Boston, United States, 2015.
    3. Hyundai, „Hyundai news,“ 3 June 2016. [Online]. Available: [Acessed on 17 November 2018].
    4. J. Sackman, „Goliath,“ Concourse Media, 19 July 2016. [Online]. Available: [Acessed on 14 November 2018].
    5. F. Lee, „Medium,“ IOT for All, 1 February 2018. [Online]. Available: [Acessed on 14 November 2018].
    6. M. Slovick, „Electronic Design,“ Informa Business, 18 July 2018. [Online]. Available: [Acessed on 14 November 2018].
    7. J. Mcintosh, „Drive,“ Post Media Inc., 10 August 2016. [Online]. Available: [Acessed on 14 November 2018].
    8. C. Kriel, „Siliconangle,“ 7 January 2016. [Online]. Available: [Acessed on 14 November 2018].
    9. U. Reissner, „Gestures and Speech in Cars,“ TUM, Munich.
    10. European union, „Eurostat,“ European union, 31 July 2017. [Online]. Available: [Acessed on 14 November 2018].

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