Ford looks to foster interaction between cars and wearables in new lab


Automotive giant Ford is launching the Automotive Wearables Experience laboratory in Michigan aiming to assess the potential of wearables and connected car technologies.

Gary Strumolo, global manager for vehicle design and infotronics, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering, said: “As more consumers embrace smart watches, glasses and fitness bands, we hope to develop future applications that work with those devices to enhance in-car functionality and driver awareness.

“Wearable technology integrated with the vehicle allows for more accurate biometric data to stream continuously and alert active driver-assist systems to become more sensitive if the driver shows signs of compromised health or awareness,” he added.

For instance, smart watch data on the driver’s level of sleep could be used to increase the sensitivity of lane-keeping assist. Similarly, data on the driver’s heart rate could be used to dictate the distance between vehicles via the vehicle’s adaptive cruise control or Blind Spot Information System.

The lab is also working on developing a way to inform drivers when they need to take control of a semi-autonomous vehicle. For example, the presence of a road construction or accident scenario will require human intervention and the technology could send a wrist vibration or chimes, or even activate flashing lights on the dash.

Meanwhile, researchers are also trialling voice control for the smart watch version of MyFord Mobile, which would facilitate use of voice commands without the need to touch the watch or phone. Another customer-focused experiment concerns the use of augmented reality optics, or smart glasses, and the dealership experience. Glasses could provide a wide range of features from technical specifications to a virtual test drive.

Ford is also organising an app developer challenge in order to foster innovation in measurement of in-vehicle health metrics, during the coming winter.

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