My car, my doctor – self tracking on wheels and the similarities between knowing your car and knowing yourself

31 Aug 2013
car monitors

“Why do we regularly check the oil and water levels in our car, but not the status of our body?”

Times are changing.

It started with Mercedes and Lexus, which incorporated technology to warn drivers when they are getting drowsy. Next followed some ideas on what else we would be able to monitor while driving  (see below).

car monitors

Now, at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show, September 10-22, Ford will unveil a concept version of their popular sports activity vehicle, the S-MAX, which will use the seats to monitor occupant’s vital signs.

Indeed, the onboard SYNC system will offer driver and passenger health monitoring. The S-MAX Concept is fitted with Ford’s ECG Heart Rate Monitoring Seat which can record and log the driver’s cardio data over a long term. If the system detects an emergency, SYNC could alert medical professionals or an emergency response team.

Additionally, Glucose Level Monitoring can be connected with Ford SYNC to for instance warn parents if a sleeping child in the rear seats suffers a diabetic episode.

Ford hasn’t specified if these features will become standard or options on future models. With the amount of time some people spend in their cars, it seems many more opportunities exist to integrate in-vehicle health improvement features.

September 2013, car maker Nissan has joined the smartwatch scene, announcing that it has created a biometric reader to combine personal health stats with those of your car. So you can track man and machine from the same device.

The Nismo Watch has been created to work in conjunction with the systems inside its sporty Nismo series cars, with the smartwatch able to display speed, fuel consumption and performance data once connected to a car’s onboard computer via Bluetooth LE. It’ll combine these stats with biometric data of the driver pulled out via a heart rate monitor.

Nissan smartwatch

At the forementioned Automobile show, Nokia will reveal it’s Here Auto connected car platform,  comprised of an application that can be embedded to a vehicle’s navigation system, a mobile app companion and a cloud service. Any in-car navigator with the Here Auto software can offer voice-guided navigation with or without a data connection, along with 2D, 3D and street-level satellite maps. You’ll need internet access to tap into the cloud service for real-time data, including traffic and weather updates, but previously downloaded maps work just fine even when you’re offline. The Auto Companion mobile app complements the software and the cloud service, giving you a way to pre-plan trips or find your car through a phone.

That is the same Nokia which recently introduced the $2.25 million Nokia sensing Xchallenge, two competitions to revolutionize digital healthcare.

In it, Nokia, like hundreds of other players worldwide, envisions a future where everyone has access to affordable, personalized healthcare through sophisticated sensing technologies that put you in charge of your own health. Where sensors and devices recognize and measure your personal health information, provide insights and recommendations relevant to you and communicate that information to your physician.

What struck me are some of the similarities of the graphs they use for the car system and the healthcare challenge.


Nokia car here_companion_screen03_a


So, combining all of the above, we’re not that far from seeing your average smartphone and ICT provider taking on your car making it part of the new healthcare paradigm of disease prediction and prevention by monitoring, sharing and providing actionable insights.

Further reading

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