Wellness behind the wheel

Health apps for your ride

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Medical emergencies at 60 mph. A study by the national highway traffic safety administration says 84 percent of drivers in crashes that were brought on by medical emergencies experienced seizures, blackouts, or diabetic reactions prior to the crash. Now car companies are hoping technology can change those stats.

When you think car safety airbags might come to mind or seat belts and crash test dummies, but what about car healthy? Well that's what engineers at ford motor company are working on right now.

"It's kind of an extension on driver safety," said David Melcher, a Ford research engineer.

Using Bluetooth, they're making health and wellness apps for your car. Collaborating with medical professionals to help people with diabetes, asthma and allergies, the system will be able connect to servers that access patient information and alert drivers to medical red flags even give suggestions on how to prevent a diabetic episode.

Ford's health and wellness research engineer Gary Strumolo says this is only the beginning.

"Imagine if you could ask for the healthiest route," he said.

Future plans include tying in your car's GPS to shut air vents or re-route you if you're driving through areas with poor air quality, and for diabetics…

"Your sugars turning low, two blocks up on the right there's a convenience store you should stop and get something," Strumolo said.

Health on the highway,

"While you maintain your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel," Strumolo said.

Right now, the allergy alert app is available for free for people with iPhones. It works in ford vehicles with the sync app-link system.

Other health and wellness applications are in different stages of development including a real-time glucose monitor and a driver's seat that measures your heart rate.

Toyota is also working on a steering wheel with a built-in echocardiogram that can tell if a driver is having a heart attack.

Additional Information:

NEW TECHNOLOGY:   Ford has announced the launch of the first mobile health app to connect to certain Ford models via the car company's Sync AppLink platform: IMS Health's Allergy Alert app, which is powered by data from IMS Health's Pollen.com site. Gary Strumolo, Manager, Vehicle Design & Infotronics, Ford Research and Innovation explained that Ford had architected three ways for mobile health services to interact with its cars: Bluetooth connectivity between the car's computer and personal medical devices, remote access to cloud services via the car's computer, and synching up to the health apps users already have on their smartphones.

Allergy Alert was one of mobile health apps that were on display at Ford's event last year. Medtronic and WellDoc also showed off their wares: Medtronic demo'd a continuous glucose meter (CGM) that connected to the car via Bluetooth and allowed users to hear alerts about their blood glucose readings instead of having to fumble with their monitor's screen while driving. WellDoc demonstrated its cloud-based DiabetesManager service, which could encourage drivers to double check their blood sugar right when they get behind the wheel if they had a low reading earlier that day. More recently, Ford Motor announced that it had built on its in-car health monitoring initiative by teaming with Microsoft and Healthrageous to research how people can monitor their health and promote wellness with connected devices while in their vehicles. The number of allergy related apps is on the up and up. Allergy-related apps, like IMS Health's Allergy Alert, are an emerging and fast-growing subcategory of iOS health apps. (Source: Ford.com)

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