Cars are cutting you off on the highway. Your pulse quickens. You need to concentrate. What you really need is absolute silence — no phone calls, no music. In this kind of situation, a new stress-sensing system developed by Ford would shut down the distractions the moment driving becomes tense.
Using temperature and heart rate sensors mounted on the steering wheel, and a breathing rate monitor integrated into the seatbelt, Ford’s system monitors the driver’s vitals. Jeff Greenberg, from Ford Research & Innovation, explains why to Wired:
“Modern cars have rapidly evolved to have an astonishing degree of awareness about traffic and the environment, using radars and other sensing technology to create a sort of sixth sense for the driver. Our researchers are extending that sixth sense to include being aware of the driver by using biometrics — sensing heart rate and breathing. The next step is building in intelligence so that the car can help reduce workload in demanding situations or when high driver stress levels are present.”
And that’s what they’ve done. By processing the driver’s stats, the system can work out how stressed he or she is. As soon as the driver starts to tense up, the car can prevent distractions: muting your stereo, for instance, or hanging up the phone. There’s no word on when it might make it into a real car, but in the meantime, you can look forward to a day when your vehicle decides to hang up on your boss for you. [Wired]