Control in-car tech with a glance of your eye

Toshiba driving system
Toshiba's system works via a camera mounted above the steering wheel, which tracks your pupils and facial orientation

In the future you'll be able to control in-car devices with just a glance of your eye. That's according to Toshiba, which claims its new driving facial recognition system will enable you to tune the radio, change the air con and also alert you if you take your eyes off the road for too long.

It works via a camera mounted above the steering wheel, which tracks your pupils and facial orientation. The system can detect head movement, eye direction and even your blinking patterns, allowing just a wink at the radio to turn it on. Just don't mention sneezing or sunglassses…

Toshiba demoed the tech at the Automotive Engineering Expo in Japan. The company says it isn't ready for the market yet, but it's working on making it more suited for embedded CPUs.

More Weird Tech news

It doesn't stop there: it seems light switches, TV remotes and even house keys could soon become a thing of the past too. According to reports, a new brain-computer interface tech is being developed that will let you carry out everyday tasks by thought alone. What could possibly go wrong?

In other news, Segway inventor Dean Kamen has developed a shoe-controlled bionic arm. Essentially a foot-operated joystick, sensors in the user's shoe react to pressure on different parts of the foot, enabling the arm to be manoeuvred. It involves wires for now, but future versions will be wireless.

Shoe-controlled bionic arm

Image credit: The Register

Elsewhere, Houston researchers have linked CO2 poisoning to videogames. Scientists found that many of the children treated for the illness after Hurricane Ike had been playing videogames powered by generators.

It seems that while some people used their home generators to preserve food until normal power was restored, others opted to run entertainment systems instead.

Gadget therapy

We're not sure which is weirder – iXing's Vitamin MP3 player, a tiny pill-shaped gadget that "combines our hobbies of music, gadgets and prescription-strength home pharmaceuticals into one" (not to be confused with last week's Weird Tech-featured cyanide chip), or the speakers made from real eggshells that we saw this week. They must have taken Flickr user Gomhi ages to create.

Eggshell speakers

Image credit: Flickr/Gomhi

In fact, all manner of unusual devices surfaced this week. Thanks to the Powerbrella, you can now charge all your gadgets outside – and dodge sunburn at the same time: bonus. Basically it's a giant patio umbrella with solar shades, so you can simply plug in your gadgets to the outlets, grab a beer and enjoy the weather.

And finally…

Fear not, this isn't Washington launching a nuclear attack on the rest of the world. It is in fact a visualisation of mobile phone activity during Obama's inauguration, showing the world being lit up by millions of voices. Watch it in motion for even more spectacular results.


Image credit: MIT SENSEable City Lab

Julia Sagar
Content director, special projects

Julia specialises in ecommerce at Future. For the last four years, she’s split her time between leading TechRadar’s crack team of deal editors - covering all the biggest sales of the year including Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Amazon Prime Day - and helping the audiences of Future’s consumer tech and lifestyle brands (TechRadar, Tom's Guide, T3, Marie Claire, Woman & Home and more) find the best products and services for their needs and budget.

A former editor of global design website Creative Bloq, she has over 15 years’ experience in online and print journalism, and was part of the team that launched TechRadar way back in the day. When she isn't reviewing mattresses (she’s tested more than she cares to remember), or sharing tips on how to save money in the latest sales, she can usually be found writing about anything from green energy to graphic design.