Ford Turns To Wearables For Sleepy, Stressed Driver Data

Your next Ford could track your heart rate and leave a bigger cruise control comfort zone when you're stressed, just one of the projects the company is working on in its new Automotive Wearables Experience lab. The group, part of Ford's Research and Innovation Center in Dearborn, Michigan, is looking at how wearable tech like smartwatches and fitness trackers can be hooked into increasingly complex vehicle systems.

For instance, in the case of adaptive cruise control, the Ford researchers are investigating how stress signals like raised heart rate might indicate a more cautious driving style is in order.

As a result, the gap between the Ford and the vehicle in front could be increased.

Meanwhile, a smartwatch could feed back sleep data to the car, and if the driver had less rest it might trigger greater sensitivity in the lane-keeping assistance system.

"As more consumers embrace smart watches, glasses and fitness bands," Gary Strumolo, global manager for vehicle design and infotronics said of the project, "we hope to develop future applications that work with those devices to enhance in-car functionality and driver awareness."

The group eventually expects to feed such data into autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles, allowing them to be more attuned to the condition of their human occupants.