You are feeling a little stressed out and lightheaded, so you decide to go check out what's wrong with you by taking a trip to...your car? I maen I've heard of the "bookmobile" but the "docmobile"?
If everything goes according to plan, you might be able to do just that in the future. Mobile Health Detective
A new sensor system developed by a research team at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM), in conjunction with researchers at the BMW Group, can detect a driver's health.
Integrated directly into the car's steering wheel, the sensor system will be able to closely monitor the driver's vital signs. This will make it an effective tool in ensuring driver safety by detecting possible dangers such as the onset of fainting spells or heart attacks
. Not content with just that, however, the system will also be able to monitor the driver's stress levels, heart rate, skin conductance and oxygen saturation in the blood . . . all through simple sensors on the steering wheel.
While similarly effective aftermarket systems have been developed for cars previously, these systems were too complex for mass production and thus not suited for commercial vehicle use. Because the sensors on this new system go directly on the steering wheel, it removes the need for extensive, laborious wiring and provides an efficient method for mass production. Vital Signs – and Not the Traffic Kind
A lot can be deduced by checking certain vital signs. For example, a driver's skin conductance can be measured to determine if he or she is under extreme stress, and whether or not his or her blood pressure is dangerously high
. All the driver has to do to perform the self scan is place his or her hands on the steering wheel's sensors. These sensors will then collect data from the driver and transmit that data to a remote control, which will show the measurement results on the vehicle's information display system. In recent tests, accurate data was provided four-fifths of the time spent driving the car, and more than half of the test subjects felt inclined to undergo more measurements. The Neverending Road of Technology
Ultimately, the team’s vision, which was led by Professor C. Lueth at the TU Muenchen Chair of Micro Technology and Medical Device Technology, was to get the vehicle to detect when the driver is not feeling well and a potential risk arises. Once the system realizes the driver is not well, ideally it will initiate appropriate measures. For example, if the driver is suffering from too much stress
, the car would automatically block any incoming phone calls, or turn the volume on the radio down. If the situation is dire enough, perhaps the car will be able to put the hazard warning lights on, reduce speed, or even pull over and park itself and request assistance.
Kind of sounds like an episode of The Jetsons, doesn’t it? In all reality, the “space-age” technology may not be that far off.