Ford Motor Co. recently revealed that it is developing a seat that checks a driver's heart rate. This is one of the products that are part of Ford’s aim to offer in-car health technologies applicable to drivers who have medical conditions.
In a statement, Dr. Achim Lindner, medical officer for Ford's European research and innovation center, said that a condition is easier to treat if it’s detected earlier.
This technology may be useful in leading to the diagnosis of conditions that the drivers weren’t even aware they had. To monitor the heart rate, six electrode sensors are placed in the backrest.
This is a joint project between Ford and Aachen University in Germany. Lindner said that even without skin contact, the sensors are able to check the heart rate since it uses a specially designed system and materials that give a good signal.
Lindner said that the company is in the process of fine-tuning the operation so that it will work with certain materials. For example, the monitor works even with 10 layers of cotton but the signal is disrupted due to the electrical interference that results when the driver wears synthetic fabric and lamb's wool.
This seat is in the early phases of development but initial test results have shown potential. Ford said that in stationary testing, the seat was compatible with 90 to 95% of subjects. Meanwhile, mobile testing in the Ford S-Max showed accurate readings about 98% of the time.
Ford said that this seat is meant primarily for those who have cardiovascular conditions, but it may also be used by the aging segment. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of Americans 65 and older will double by 2050 to 88.5 million.