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This work addresses the fundamental problem of distinguishing between a driver and passenger using a mobile phone, which is the critical input to enable numerous safety and interface enhancements. Our detection system leverages the existing car stereo infrastructure, in particular, the speakers and Bluetooth network. Our acoustic approach has the phone send a series of customized high frequency beeps via the car stereo. The beeps are spaced in time across the left, right, and if available, front and rear speakers. After sampling the beeps, we use a sequential change-point detection scheme to time their arrival, and then use a differential approach to estimate the phone's distance from the car's center. From these differences a passenger or driver classification can be made. To validate our approach, we experimented with two kinds of phones and in two different cars. We found that our customized beeps were imperceptible to most users, yet still playable and recordable in both cars. Our customized beeps were also robust to background sounds such as music and wind, and we found the signal processing did not require excessive computational resources. In spite of the cars' heavy multipath environment, our approach had a classification accuracy of over 90 percent, and around 95 percent with some calibrations. We also found, we have a low false positive rate, on the order of a few percent.
Date of Publication: Sept. 2012