Of all the near-magical electronic helpers available today, Attention Assist scores high on the safety scale. Introduced on luxury vehicles from Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, these systems monitor the driver’s attention level, issuing a noticeable warning if signs of drowsiness–perhaps even dozing–begin to appear. Clearly, such systems can save lives, and deserve to be made available in vehicles from many additional manufacturers.
Comparable value might be arriving in car-to-car communication, which could be dubbed the “next big thing.” Cars that “talk” to each other, and to the surroundings, can convey plenty of helpful information about the car’s condition, the weather, traffic patterns, and much more. Clearly, scientists and engineers have worked overtime to make in-car technology deliver a safer, more reliable, more convenient driving experience.
Ford, meanwhile, is pointing toward a different path for high-tech, with a system that monitors elements of the physical condition of the person at the wheel–but not directly in connection with his or her motoring behavior. Instead, the Ford Heart Rate Monitoring Seat that’s being developed incorporates electrode sensing technology that can check a driver’s heart activity, keeping track of the person’s heartbeat. As described by Ford, the Monitoring Seat “uses six special embedded sensors to detect electrical impulses generated by the heart.” Those sensors are positioned on the surface of the seat’s backrest.
A joint project between the Ford European Research and Innovation Centre in Aachen, Germany, and Rheinisch-Westfalische Technische Hochschule Aachen University, the experimental monitor is said to fit into “Ford’s portfolio of possible in-car health and wellness solutions aimed at helping people with chronic illnesses or medical disorders manage their condition while on the go.”
Certainly, it’s hard to fault a development that promises “life-saving potential.” Researchers point out that not only could such a system monitor the hearts of people who are at risk, but might diagnose threatening conditions in drivers who were unaware that they had a problem of any sort. more