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In December, in-car computer vision solutions company, Cipia, announced its first purchase order from Technomous, as well as the start of production with Chinese auto giant, SAIC Motors.

But in just a month from then, the Tel Aviv-based company had yet another exciting announcement – a leading Chinese OEM would use Cipia’s leading Driver Sense Driver Monitoring Solution (DMS) in its newest models.

This means that Cipia’s tech is now used in 23 models, on seven different platforms, from five car manufacturers, including the likes of an electric car manufacturer in the US, SAIC Motors, an American car brand in China and two additional leading car manufacturers in China.

From Smartphones to Smart Vehicles

Cipia was founded back in 2007 as an eyesight technologies company focused on embedded computer vision. Initially, the company wanted to revolutionise the way users interact with their mobile phones, televisions, laptops, and other consumer electronics devices, and work with consumer electronics manufacturers such as Lenovo, Toshiba, and Sony.

To find out more about the company’s cutting-edge technology that has OEMs hooked, Auto Futures spoke to Cipia’s VP of Product, Tal Krzypow.

Cipia Tal Krzypow
Cipia’s Tal Krzypow

“In 2017, following the release of Euro NCAP’s roadmap for 2025, and the requirement to include driver monitoring as a standard safety feature, we experienced a surge of interest from automotive manufacturers. We took 2018 to validate the market and in 2019 we fully pivoted the company from focusing our computer vision capabilities for consumer electronics to automotive in-cabin sensing. Since then, the requirement to detect driver drowsiness and distraction has expanded to the legal realm, with the European Parliament’s update to the General Safety Regulations at the end of 2019,” said Krzypow.

Since 2019, Cipia has aimed its focus solely on the automotive market, catering to OEMs and Tier 1s as well as telematics service providers with driver monitoring for fleets. Giving a deeper view of the company’s products, Krzypow said: “First and foremost, our flagship product, Driver Sense, is a computer vision- and AI-based driver monitoring system, aimed at OEMs and Tier 1s for integration as part of the vehicle’s safety systems.

“Our Driver Sense DMS helps address the regulatory requirements and safety standards for driver monitoring, but also offers additional benefits by enabling advanced interaction with the vehicle. For example, face recognition is used for automatic personalisation. Gaze tracking is used to indicate the driver’s intent and focus the interaction. Mouth tracking assists voice assistants.

“It’s important to note that Driver Sense’s role in the vehicle is merely to analyse the driver’s state and inform other vehicle systems. We don’t control vehicle functions, and it is up to the carmakers to define, design, and enable the actions that occur once driver distraction, drowsiness etc. are detected. In regard to what the automaker will do with the driver state data, it depends on which systems are available in the vehicle. If there are no automated functions at all, then the least the vehicle can do is to issue visual and auditory warnings, to help refocus the driver on the road.

“However, if the vehicle is equipped with adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist, the vehicle can actually take over in the event of an impaired driver, saving the driver and other road users close by.

“Another important note is that our technology is based on embedded computer vision AI, which means we run locally in the vehicle. No image is sent by our system for analysis, and our system doesn’t retain images. While we do use an infrared video stream for the analysis (allowing operation under all lighting conditions) we simply behave as a sensor which outputs metadata about the driver’s state,” he said.

Cipia Distracted Driver

“Our second product in deployment is the Cipia-FS10. Essentially, we built a hardware device around the Driver Sense software, so that it can be installed in commercial vehicles as an aftermarket product to assist truck, bus, and van drivers in their daily work, as well as equip the fleet manager with insights for smarter and more efficient fleet management.

The DMS device provides drivers with real-time alerts when drowsiness, distraction or dangerous actions are detected to mitigate resulting accidents, while the Fleet Management System (FMS) or fleet operators receive tailored alerts according to their needs. This makes it the perfect solution for fleet managers, increasing their efficiency rather than drowning them in useless alerts.

For instance, data collected over time can help identify routes with higher rates of distractions or drivers falling asleep behind the steering wheel, as well as providing insights for more efficient workforce management through driver training and scoring systems.

“Last, but not least, we see budding interest with automotive manufacturers in occupancy monitoring systems, which detect the number of occupants in a cabin, their position, whether they are wearing a seatbelt, child reminder alert, etc. To address this need we are developing Cabin Sense – our cabin monitoring software.”

A Global Concern

China is a major market for Cipia, but the company has also been increasing its presence in Europe, which Krzypow explains is to better support the market demand and needs.

In the US, Cipia has already been selected for nine models in serial production. With the Cipia-FS10 aftermarket device, the company is active in other territories with strong activity in Latin America and Europe, with the aim to further expand its presence in more territories and markets.

With the increased focus on safety and the adoption of autonomous vehicles, Krzypow’s outlook for cabin sensing space is extremely positive.

“In-cabin sensing faces huge growth. First, the regulatory trend and safety standards adoption, in Europe and in the US clearly highlight that automated functions and driver monitoring go hand in hand.

“For example, Euro NCAP expects intervention of the automated ADAS functions such as forward collision warning and low-level braking, in the event of driver impairment. Vehicles with level 2 capabilities, require driver monitoring as well, to prevent complacency or misuse of the automated functions. There is no doubt – up to level 3 of autonomy, the need for driver monitoring increases,” he said.

“Looking ahead, at levels 4 and 5 of autonomy, the first question that comes to mind is when do you believe such capabilities will be common? Looking at the popular Gartner hype cycle for emerging technologies, it seems autonomous vehicles are in the trough of disillusionment, with a decade to reach the mass market. This suggests plenty of runway for driver monitoring as an essential element of passive and active safety in the vehicle.

“Once we do reach full autonomy, we will witness a shift in the focus from technology that is centred on the driving experience to being more about the riding experience. The vehicle will transform into a third space, after home and office, where we work, study, and have fun. In this future, understanding the passengers in the cabin will be key to serving them better, with experience, products, and services that are tailored to the specific people in the vehicle, their demographics, mood, activities, etc. We believe our sensing technology will be the key to unlocking this value.”

And it’s not just the in-cabin space that Krzypow is positive about. Cipia has been on quite the growth trajectory, and it’s only expected to get better, now that automakers are finally considering their offerings as must-haves.

“As carmakers move to more advanced levels of autonomy, the need for ADAS and DMS to work in sync is increasing. Automakers will be looking to integrate the two technologies to create a solution that is better than the sum of its parts. To support this need, Cipia has partnered with Mobileye, the industry’s ADAS leader to offer Cipia’s Driver Sense, DMS, pre-integrated on Mobileye’s ASIL B rated EyeQ family ADAS SoCs.

“Additionally looking forward towards full in-cabin sensing (DMS), we see that automakers are first and foremost looking at passenger safety aspects. In the near future, this is where the focus will be,” Krzypow concluded.

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