Google may have made leaps and bounds already in the development of future automotive technology with its autonomous vehicle program, but that’s not all it’s working on. A patent recently published by the USPTO reveals a concept for an in-car tool which uses your wearable device’s movements to work out if you’re the driver or passenger…

Google’s motives for coming up with this patent are purely in the pursuit of road safety. The company notes in its patent listing that many users want to access various features of their mobile phones, navigation systems and tablets while in a car. Of course, some interactions with those devices are unsafe and/or unlawful. Using a combination of location sensors, and motion sensors, Google’s system can, theoretically, tell which wearable is on the wrist of the driver, and disable certain functions on their devices.

The listing explains it stating that it can use sensors to detect, first of all, if the wearable or mobile device is in a moving vehicle. That’s nothing new, but then — using motion sensors — it can work out what the probability is that the wearer is driving the vehicle. For instance, a driver could be turning the steering wheel, moving the gearstick or handbrake, or a number of other movements associated with driving a vehicle. If a wearable detects those kinds of movements, and the probability of it being the driver’s meets a certain threshold, it transmits information to specific devices to perform an action. In this case, that’ll most likely be an action of restricting certain functions like texting or web browsing.

As with any patent listing, it’s worth noting that it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that Google will build and release this tool to the public. So don’t get your hopes up just yet.

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