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Your next BMW will be able to read your emotions

Passenger-facing cameras will arrive in BMW product in "less than two years"

BMW will launch passenger-facing cameras designed to let your car read your emotions within the next two years, driving headlong into a science-fiction future in which your car will be able to sense if you're sad or stressed and react accordingly.

Speaking at the launch of the brand's new Intelligent Personal Assistant - an in-car assistant like Apple's Siri or Amazon's Alexa which is activated by saying "hey BMW" - the German marque's customer experience strategist, Claudia Vonend, said the current roll-out of technology is just the beginning.

And the very next stage of the technology will include mounting in-cabin cameras in the roof lining which will read your facial expressions and body language and attempt to cheer you up if you're sad or calm you down if you're stressed. More cameras will do the same for your passengers, and the car will be able to set different emotional zones, depending on how your passengers are feeling.

And if you think that sounds a little far-fetched, it isn't. In fact, BMW says it will be introduced within the next two years.

"The technology is coming from us, but it adapts to you. Cameras in cars are needed to get all the information in the car," Vonend says. "(The cameras) would be invisible. We are looking for the best people to collaborate with."

"Not longer than two years. Two years is very far away for us. We will always have the...guys that fight for the processes that make the cars such a high quality. And then we come up with our ideas, and say 'you need to put all this stuff in'.

"We want to speed it up, we are fighting very strongly to have it in the car much, much sooner. But driver distraction and not interfering with other systems is also a high priority."

Already the Personal Assistant, rolled out for the first time in the new 3 Series, revealed at the Paris motor show, can react to verbal commands, warming up the interior lighting, activating seat heaters or seat massagers and piping calming music through the stereo if you say "hey BMW, I'm stressed".

But the next wave of technology will take it even further, removing the need for any verbal cues at all. One example, Vonend says, is that if the car automatically increases the cabin temperature when its cold outside, it won't do it if the camera spots you wearing a thick coat.

"So are you wearing a big ski jacket? Then the car wouldn't offer higher temperatures. Or if people are driving at 200km/h on the autobahn, it needs to see if this is now very stressful, or are you relaxed despite driving so fast? Is it raining outside?

"We need to take you as a person and your preferences, plus the context."

Are passenger-facing cameras a good idea? Or is this the first step on a path to Skynet? Tell us in comments below.