Thursday, May 26, 2011

Could Your Car Detect a Heart Attack?

Should car companies be in the medical business? Well, Ford Motor Company seems to think so. First the bluetooth-enabled glucose meter and now the ECG-enabled bucket seat:
AACHEN, Germany, May 24, 2011 – Ford Motor Company's advanced research engineers have developed a prototype vehicle seat that can monitor a driver's heart activity and could one day reduce the number of accidents and fatalities that occur as a result of motorists having heart attacks behind the wheel.

Engineers from Ford's European Research Centre in Aachen, Germany, working closely with Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule, Aachen University, embarked on the project to address an often overlooked traffic safety issue – accidents triggered by drivers who experience heart problems.

The prototype Ford seat employs ECG (electrocardiograph) technology that monitors the heart's electrical impulses and detects signs of irregularity that can provide an early warning that a driver should seek medical advice, because he might be impacted by a heart attack or other cardiovascular issues. Whereas a normal ECG machine in a doctor's office requires metal electrodes to be attached to the skin at various points on the body, the Ford ECG seat has six built-in sensors that can detect heart activity through the driver's clothing.
So I wonder what the car will actually do when it detects a heart attack? Will it pull off to the side of the road and stop? Maybe it'll activate the car's OnStar system? Or maybe a few more electrodes could be applied to the seat that could deliver a corrective defibrillation jolt? (One false positive arrhythmia detection and you can bet that car will never sell, though).


Next week, look for the pulse-oximeter-enabled steering wheel that drops oxygen masks from the car's ceiling when driver's oxygen level drops too low.



Lisa said...

I have actually fainted while driving my car before. Fortunately the only things that were seriously injured were my car and the brick mailbox that I hit. My license was suspended for six months and my EP had to sign off that I was medically fit to drive before I could get it back. The seat intrigues me, but could it detect TdP with enough time for me to pull off the road?

Stwart Jenssen said...

It would be a fundamental contribution to the people who suffer from heart attacks. The large number of accidents for this disease has increased significantly and we need to have alternatives which can work together to prevent this situation.