In its Automotive Solutions business area, Smart Eye offers eye tracking algorithms and applications for the systems that automotive industry Tier 1 suppliers develop and deliver to carmakers, termed OEMs.
When automotive industry customers started demanding eye tracking systems for integration into driver monitoring systems in 2012, Smart Eye created the Automotive Solutions business area (known as Applied Solutions until autumn 2018). The need is now broader-based with driver monitoring systems heading towards becoming a new safety standard for all vehicles, not only those with partly self-driving functionality. In combination with other sensors for vehicle interior environments, Smart Eye also expects eye tracking to start being used to further enhance safety, but also to improve passenger compartment comfort. Smart Eye was an early adopter of AI to improve eye tracking system performance. This technology is going to become highly significant for this new functionality.
Eye tracking for driver monitoring systems
Eye tracking for the automotive industry was initially developed to improve road safety. By equipping a vehicle with a driver monitoring system based on eye tracking technology, it is possible to determine whether a driver is inattentive or tired. When this information is combined with other vehicle functionality, road safety can be improved. The automotive industry’s premium manufacturers were the first to realise this potential, but when in autumn 2017, Euro NCAP decided to include vehicle driver monitoring systems in its agenda for 2025 car safety tests, progress accelerated. Now, eye tracking technology for driver monitoring systems is being tendered for premium and mid-class cars.
Unique quality that satisfies automotive industry standards
The automotive industry sets exceptional performance, precision and availability standards. The technology needs to function on an optimised platform, not consume excessive processing power and must be implementable cost-efficiently. Moreover, the technology itself must be able to measure exactly - determine where a person is looking and how open their eyelids are precisely and accurately - basically 100% of measures must be accurate. Finally, in terms of availability, technology needs to work worldwide and in all environments, regardless of daylight, tunnels or season, whether the driver is wearing spectacles, hats or facemasks. Apart from Smart Eye’s eye tracking technology satisfying these exacting standards, Smart Eye also possesses an advantage in having addressed the automotive industry since incorporation in 2000. Smart Eye’s organisational resources and development processes are a good fit with this sector. There are only a handful of players apart from Smart Eye that have the capability to provide eye tracking technology for the automotive industry.
"53 percent of Smart Eye's sales was generated from the Automotive Solutions business area"
A world-leading positioning with good growth potential
Smart Eyes’ and Automotive Solutions’ world leadership as a producer of eye tracking technology is secured by its design wins (see page 13). Smart Eye’s opinion is that there is no other producer of eye tracking for vehicle interior environments with as many design wins and technology installed in as many vehicles in production as Smart Eye. Smart Eye is often prevented from naming its customers by nondisclosure agreements, but of vehicles already in production, Smart Eye has been able to name the BMW X3, X4, X5, Z4, 3 series and 8 series.
In total, Smart Eye has received 81 design wins (May 2020), 27 of which were received during 2019, and 13 were received during 2019. Major design wins were secured in South Korea and Japan in the year. With its previous major design wins from European and Chinese producers, Smart Eye clearly consolidated its market positioning in the year. Smart Eye now provides eye tracking technology for a total of ten OEMs, and a total of eight car platforms. Apart from Smart Eye, there is only a small cluster of players capable of delivering the type of eye tracking software that the automotive industry requires. Smart Eye issues press releases whenever it secures new design wins, and states them in its quarterly reports.
International successes achieved should be developed to secure Smart Eye’s positioning as the global market leader in eye tracking for driver monitoring systems. A local presence in the USA and Asia is critical to achieving this.