Biometric Monitors: Coming to a Driveway Near You

Might your car one day serve as a mobile doctor's office? If research into biometric monitoring being conducted by carmakers comes to fruition, your car may soon be able to tracks your stress and blood sugar levels, and more, reports Bob Moon.
December 25, 2012, 1pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus are among the automakers exploring the "next big thing in car technology: biometric monitors," reports Moon.

"Ford technician Jeff Greenberg, who is leading the carmaker's research into the use of biometric monitors, says the car of the future could be equipped to keep track of you in much more intimate ways. Among the monitors that Ford has been researching, he says, are sensors embedded in the steering wheel that can measure galvanic skin response -- 'basically how sweaty your palms are,' he explains. Seat belt sensors can monitor breathing rates."

What's the purpose of mobile medical monitoring? Improving safety, primarily. "Based on what your car decides, Greenberg says, your cell phone might not ring through at just the moment you're likely experiencing  sensory overload in heavy traffic." Or your car may gently let you know you're becoming drowsy, and become more insistent if you keep going.

"So, could a car be programmed to stop automatically if it sensed, say, a heart attack?" asks Moon. "Greenberg stresses that the data won't be used to diagnose health conditions."

"They're not designed as medical-grade sensors," Greenberg explains. "We are not going to turn the car into an FDA-certified medical device."

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Published on Friday, December 21, 2012 in American Public Media: Marketplace
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