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Ford lab integrates wearables and vehicles, aims to link health data to driver-assist technology

Ford Motor scientists and engineers are working to integrate wearable devices and vehicles to enable driver-assist technologies to be more aware of the driver behind the wheel, especially when the person is stressed or sleepy.

“As more consumers embrace smart watches, glasses and fitness bands, we hope to develop future applications that work with those devices to enhance in-car functionality and driver awareness,” said Gary Strumolo, global manager for vehicle design and infotronics, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering.

Researchers at the new Automotive Wearables Experience laboratory housed in the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, Michigan, are examining the potential to link vital health information to in-vehicle technologies, including lane-keeping assist and Blind Spot Information System.

Lane-keeping assist could become more sensitive if a smart watch sends data to the vehicle that infers the driver didn’t get enough sleep the previous night. Or, if a driver’s heart rate increases as traffic intensifies, the adaptive cruise control or Blind Spot Information System could increase the distance between vehicles – giving the driver some breathing room.

“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,” added Strumolo.