Ford tries healthy option

Ford is researching ways to add medical monitoring features to its in-car communication system so drivers with disorders such as diabetes, asthma or allergies may avoid attacks that could lead to crashes.

Ford says it is developing ways to connect medical devices to its voice-activated Sync system.

The technology may help diabetics monitor glucose levels on a dashboard screen or over the audio system and avoid lightheadedness, blurry vision or other symptoms that may be dangerous while driving, Ford said.

Ford says its Sync system - available on almost all models in the US - is an important factor in 50 per cent of purchases.

The newest version, which features an 20cm dashboard touch screen, was criticised in January by US Consumer Reports magazine for being complicated and "frustrating".

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has said Sync can lead to driver distraction.

"Ford's approach to health and wellness in the vehicle is not about trying to take on the role of healthcare or medical provider, we're a car company," says Gary Strumolo, Ford's manager of interiors.

He adds Ford is trying to "create a secondary alert system and alternate outlet for real-time patient coaching".

About 78 per cent of US consumers are interested in mobile health solutions, Ford says, citing a survey that showed Apple's App store now has more than 17,000 health applications.

Ford is also researching smartphone applications that could connect to Sync and provide drivers with allergy alerts that give current pollen levels and other information for people with asthma, colds and coughs and ultraviolet sensitivity.

The second-largest US carmaker didn't say when it might offer these features to consumers.

"We want to broaden the paradigm, transforming Sync into a tool that can help improve people's lives as well as the driving experience," says Paul Mascarenas, Ford's chief technology officer.

- BLOOMBERG

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a2 at 22 Aug 2014 22:35:45 Processing Time: 575ms