Did you get enough sleep last night? What if your car could tell whether you had or not and its adaptive cruise control kicked in to make sure you drove more safely? It may sound like the stuff of science fiction, and yet it’s something Ford’s engineers have been working on: earlier this year, the US car manufacturer opened a dedicated research lab for wearables.
incorporating wearables into the driving experience
The IoT market is thriving, and Ford didn’t want to miss out on the opportunities it offers. Something of a pioneer in connectivity – back in 2012 it devised a system whereby cars could recognise and read out text messages via Bluetooth – the automotive giant has set up a dedicated wearables facility at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, Michigan.
Gary Strumolo, global manager for vehicle design and infotronics, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering, explains:
“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.”
The researchers and engineers at the lab are looking into ways for vehicles to exploit data collected by wearable technologies and thinking how drivers can interact with connected devices.
A CAR THAT RESPONDS TO THE DRIVER’S STATE OF HEALTH AND stress LEVELS
Gary Strumolo says:
“The potential in this space is endless. We’re evaluating many different wearable devices and applications – everything from helping to keep Ford drivers healthier and more aware behind the wheel to offering an enhanced customer experience at our dealerships.”
These potential benefits include sending an alert to the driver – such as via a wrist vibration, chimes, or activating flashing lights on the dashboard – to warn them that they need to take driving control back from the vehicle (for example if there is an accident ahead).
“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.”
In September 2015, Ford created a smartwatch app enabling drivers of electric cars to remotely lock/unlock their car, check battery levels and mileage, switch on the AC or even locate their parked car.