Published on April 14th, 2016 | by Subhash Nair0
How Ford is Planning to Use Wearable Technology to Build Smarter Cars
From how we interact with our phones to how we monitor our health, wearable technologies have changed the daily lives of people from Cupertino to Chongqing. As more and more people adopt these devices, the possibilities for how they interact with the world around them are practically limitless.
The connection between what you wear and what you drive is getting stronger with help from Ford’s new wearables research laboratory. Ford 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 – particularly when that driver is stressed or sleepy.
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, for instance, 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 vehicle’s adaptive cruise control could increase the distance between vehicles – giving the driver some breathing room.
Semi-autonomous driving applications
The ability to measure wakefulness and health data including blood pressure, blood glucose and heart rate via wearable technology also could benefit semi-autonomous driving features. The wearables lab is examining ways to signal a driver using semi-autonomous features of the potential need to take driving control back from the vehicle. If there were road construction or an accident ahead, a situation requiring a human at the wheel, the technology could send a wrist vibration or chimes, or even activate flashing lights on the dash.
Wearable innovations are part of Ford Smart Mobility – the company’s plan to be a leader in connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, the customer experience, and data and analytics.
A customer-focused experiment the lab is working on involves augmented reality optics, or smart glasses, and the dealership experience. Customers would wear smart glasses as they guide themselves through a showroom, seeing additional information about vehicles they’re interested in. Looking through glasses could offer a wide range of features from technical specifications to a virtual test drive.