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Future Ford cars could help manage drivers' health and safety

Consumer Reports News: May 19, 2011 04:28 PM

Sure, plenty of car's have built-in smarts to diagnose what's going on under the hood. But if Ford Motors has its way, your next car could help warn when something might be wrong under the driver's skin.

The automaker recently announced that its working with several health and medical companies to bring human health monitoring capabilities to its Sync in-car information and entertainment system. Ford researchers and its partners believe that the same wireless communications technologies used by Sync to keep drivers informed about their car can be used to help drivers keep on top of their own health. Some examples of what the engineers have developed in testing an expanded Sync:

  • Allergy Alerts. A setup which links via Bluetooth to a smart phone app from www.pollen.com. It pulls data from the Web and the car's GPS, to display the pollen levels in the car's vicinity. If a driver has asthma or other respiratory diseases, Sync can also use this data during navigation chores and avoid routes with areas of high allergens or other airborne pollutants.
  • Glucose monitoring. Engineers at Ford and Meditronic, a maker of blood glucose monitors, created a Bluetooth device that continuously monitors a diabetic's glucose levels. Results can be displayed on the car's screens and sound warnings if a driver shows signs of hypoglycemia—low blood sugar—which could cause seizures or unconsciousness. Sync could then tap an online database and display quick remedies, or even possibly direct them to the nearest restaurant with proper food choices.

Gary Strumolo, a global manager with Ford Research and Innovation, pointed out that the Sync system can be a tool to help drivers—especially those with chronic illnesses—use their time behind the wheel to manage their well-being and comfort. He told ABCNews:

We already have a chair massage and parking assist feature. In the future the car may be able to monitor heart rate and other stress indicators and it might do things like change the music to help you mellow out.

According to Strumolo, Ford could introduce such Sync health applications in the next two years.

Ford and Healthcare Experts Research SYNC Health and Wellness Connectivity Services Helping Manage Chronic Illness On the Go [Ford]
Ford Cars of the Future Will Drive Away Allergies [ABCNews Health]
Ford eyes health application for Sync [Detroit Free Press]
Ford developing in-car health monitoring tech [Computer World]

Paul Eng

   

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