Wellness on Wheels: The car that gives insulin shots

Posted on March 14, 2012

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English: A harness-racing buggy in Torrington,...

There are health-focused iPhone apps, health-focused video games, and now there are health-focused cars – cars being the “third-most important computing device after smartphones and tablets,” according to the FT.

Drivers, especially younger ones, are becoming less concerned with the build of a car and more concerned with comfort and connectivity. Ford isn’t stopping with cars that can make calls, voice directions and locate a pizza place: it’s tackling insulin management, too. Given that over 8% of Americans have diabetes, it’s a surprisingly logical step. Here’s how it works: the driver or passenger wears a Bluetooth-equipped glucose monitor which syncs to the car’s computer. The computer gives audible alerts and takes voice commands from the driver to deliver the insulin via the wearable insulin pump.

Ford’s SYNC system is also going to target allergies: it will check surrounding pollen levels and raise your windows if need be. This would certainly not be on my list of upgrades to pay for, but it’s great to see cars raising the bar on health and wellness, especially given how much time Americans spend in their cars. [But maybe if cars weren’t so comfy we’d drive less and bike more? Food for thought.]

It’s not hard to imagine a near future where you download apps to your car computer as easily as you download them to your phone. Then what? Imagine going through the McDonald’s drive-through while your calorie tracking app dutifully listens to your order, logging your foods automatically. Or perhaps every morning on your daily commute the steering wheel will measure your heart rate and send the information to your doctor. Maybe the seat takes your weight to see how that calorie-tracking is doing.

But really, the focus should be on safety first: both new, safety-oriented features and also fewer in-car distractions. The ability to sense a driver’s sleepiness or intoxication should be standard while a pollen-predictor should not.  What do you think? What healthy functions would you like to see in a car?

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