Case Study

The Emotional Test Drive

Measuring Driver Engagement with Mazda

In-cabin sensing can detect more than just our presence in cars — including our emotions.

Our client, Mazda Motor Europe, along with researchers from the University of Fribourg and 60 lucky participants, ventured into the cold to test how the Mazda X5 fared in ’emotional driving’ using tools like facial expression analysis and galvanic skin response to investigate driver engagement on a more…challenging track than usual.

Mazda Motor Europe wanted to see how acceleration and g-force affected drivers while driving their newest car, the Mazda MX5. They were looking for an in-car technical solution that could measure real-time responses, especially on this slightly challenging and icy driving course. Using a previously unexplored approach, neuroscience tools would allow Mazda to capture the ‘Drive Together’ feeling by examining if, and how, certain external stimuli impact a driver’s mind and body, ultimately creating a concrete measure of driver engagement.

This was an extensive research setup in terms of respondent count, experimental design, and general applications for future driving technologies. Partnering with iMotions and the University of Fribourg (Dr. Meike Ramon & Dr. Junpeng Lao), Mazda was able to test 3 tracks with over 60 participants, 7 registered emotions using Facial Expression Analysis, and cardiac rhythm monitoring (Shimmer ECG with ear clip), all in real time. They were able to get closer to answering the question: ‘What is Emotional Driving?’

Using this human-centered approach to designing top-of-the-line in-car solutions, Mazda excels with human-machine interaction research in the automotive space, and are hence able to use this data to improve driving performance, functionality, and smart systems to keep drivers safe and engaged when driving a Mazda automobile. 

As the future of automotive technology moves further towards Driver Monitoring Systems to comply with the newest, highest safety regulations, iMotions is proud to be a part of this effort together with our parent company, Smart Eye