Ford wants to hook up wearable technology devices to the next generation of connected cars.
The American car giant, which has made major strides recently with its development of smart car technology, has announced a new wearables research laboratory to investigate the link between health information and in-vehicle technologies.
The lab, part of the company’s Ford Smart Mobility arm, is initially looking to develop applications in areas such as health checking to monitor when it is safe for someone to drive, and also boost the development of autonomous driving.
For example, driver-assist technologies such as Lane-Keeping technology, could become more alert if a companion wearable device sends data to the vehicle that infers the driver didn’t get enough sleep the previous night.
Using wearables to measure statistics such as blood pressure, blood glucose and heart rate could also benefit semi-autonomous driving features, ensuring that if the worst were to happen, the car is able to take over driving.
“Wearable technology integrated with the vehicle allows for more accurate biometric data to stream continuously and alert active driver-assist systems to become more sensitive if the driver shows signs of compromised health or awareness,” said Gary Strumolo, global manager for vehicle design and infotronics, at Ford Research and Advanced Engineering.
Ford’s research team will also be looking in to methods of signalling when a driver via a wearable device to alert them of the need to take back control of a vehicle that is in autonomous driving mode.
This would be done using semi-autonomous features to alert the driver, for example, sending a wrist vibration or chimes, or even activate flashing lights on the dashboard in the event of an accident or unexpected obstacle ahead.
Ford has been ramping up its development of intelligent vehicles within the last few months, recently announcing a large expansion of its test fleet as it looks to launch vehicle trials on public roads this year.
Earlier this week, the company also revealed it would begin testing its vehicles in inclement winter weather conditions, hoping to conquer one of the final hurdles involved in developing cars that are able to work in all situations.
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