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GM’s Opel brand is developing eye-tracked headlights that shine a guiding light to wherever you look

Adaptive headlight tech is handy, but it’s quite a complex system in place to just have the car point its lamps around a curve. Don’t get us wrong, it’s certainly worth it and we have no issue with directional lights giving us that extra fraction-of-a-second reaction time, but for all the servos and GPS systems and actuators that go into it, couldn’t we come up with something a little more modern than a technology that can be traced back to a 1948 Tucker? Opel, GM’s European subsidiary, felt the same way, and are working on headlights that look where you look.

Opel has already been busy developing a system of automotive lighting with eye-tracking tech: headlights that will light up the areas in front of you just by glancing at them.

Opel-Eye-Tracking-294906

“We’ve been pursuing this concept of controlling the direction and intensity of light based on where the driver is looking for around two years. The more we understand the benefits of this technology, the more intensively we push ahead with our joint project,” says Ingolf Schneider, Director Lighting Technology at Opel.

So far, the system in place uses infrared sensors and photo-diodes that scan the eye 50 times per second, which works in dusk and nighttime conditions. A fast processing computational program then instantaneously reacts, adjusting the beam both horizontally and vertically, depending on needs.

Opel Eye Tracking

There are limits built in, however, to keep the lights on your car swirling wildly around erratically and blinding everyone on the road. The range itself is limited to a certain cone of effect, and a sophisticated delay algorithm has been worked in to keep the headlights from translating all the involuntary eye movements as commands to shift the beam, making the car look terribly paranoid.

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There’s no particular time frame for when this technology will start to appear in Opel vehicles, but if its something that catches on, parent company GM will surely move it through the ranks of its other vehicles.