Ford is teaming up with Microsoft, Healthrageous and BlueMetal Architects to help people maintain their health and perform "wellness research" while in the car.
Sure, the idea sounds out there at first, but once you consider the concept carefully it is actually a fairly sound idea.
According to Ford, people are spending an increased amount of time in their vehicles.
Considering that many are driving alone, at least some of the time could be spent taking care of some heath-related inquiries - assuming the system doesn't distract the driver, of course.
BlueMetal is already working on prototype hardware and using the Ford Sync platform, which will allow voice interaction with existing services like HealthVault by Microsoft, Windows Azure, and the interactive services that Healthrageous provides using biometric measurement devices.
"People are spending more time in their cars, and with the tremendous growth in mobile healthcare solutions, Ford is dedicated to understanding the value of being able to connect to health and wellness-related services while driving," explained Ford exec Gary Strumolo.
"Our connectivity platform – Ford SYNC – provides easy, voice-controlled access to mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, and therefore it makes sense to research areas that are important to our [drivers]."
Ford isn't clear on just how this would work, but I personally can see a few ways. There are a number of biometric sensors already capable of tracking your heart rate and other health data. Sensors on the steering wheel could track heart rate and record it.
The seats in modern cars already are able to sense weight; this is how they determine automatically if the passenger airbag should be on or off. Those sensors could presumably be tweaked to weigh a person in real time. And of course, Ford is big on technology that can actually sense when a driver is fatigued by analyzing response time to determine how alert someone is.
From what I can gather, Ford wants to allow people stuck in traffic to look up information about illnesses and health questions. The Healthrageous equipment could run a quick digital checkup, storing the details using Microsoft HealthVault for your doctor to access later when you go in for a checkup.
Of course, it is difficult to know if this tech will ever take off; as most people are only concerned with health when they don't feel well. Still, this is an interesting development and shows forward thinking from all companies involved.