Nissan Nismo smart watch puts car performance data on your wrist

Clever technology brings sci-fi-like human-machine interface closer to reality

Published: September 09, 2013 04:00 PM

Smart watches have become the latest, bleeding-edge technology to tempt geek-gened early adopters. The crowd-financed Pebble brand made a ripple in the electronics pond, leading  Samsung, Sony, and other tech giants to follow. Now, Nissan has boldly embraced this technology, using it to move a sci-fi man-machine interface closer to automotive reality.

The concept is intriguing: The watch monitors the car and driver, displaying key data from each and enabling off-track sharing. As with other smart watches, its connectivity comes via Bluetooth pairing with a smart phone. As a result, the Nismo watch can monitor average speed, fuel economy, and track telemetry, capturing detailed performance metrics akin to how high-stakes race car teams capture data.

On the human side, the watch has a heart rate monitor that can help assess the performance of the human in context of what is happening on the track.

Where this gets truly exciting is that Nissan says it plans to develop a means to identify fatigue, monitor brainwaves to assess concentration and emotions, and record body temperature and hydration. Oh, and tell time.

Nissan is introducing the Nismo watch as a means to augment its GT Academy driver development program and provide a new, fun tool for its enthusiast owners. But there are other conceivable consumer benefits to such technology, including the potential to detect a drowsy or even intoxicated driver. Theoretically, a watch-phone system could alert the driver when dangerous behavior or inattention is detected, get help through a call to a designated contact person, or even summon emergency services after an accident, as the system could receive notice of an air bag deployment.

Of course, there is also the potential that that could be a distraction, enticing drivers to glance at their watch as they attempt heroic driving stunts on public roads. Nissan has stated that the watch “will also track and rate the user's social performance across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.” This could bring new meaning to the classic redneck phrase, “Y’all watch this!”

Hopefully the functions will be selectively made available when driving.

When it reaches the market, the watch will be offered in three colors (black, white, and black with red). It recharges via micro-USB, and the company claims the lithium battery will last about a week.

Smart watch technology has arrived, and Nissan promises to carve out an interesting niche.

Jeff Bartlett

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