As you preparing to merge onto a crowded highway, drivers should direct all their attention at the road. But all too often, we’re also minding a drink, music, conversation, and maybe Ford’s handy-dandy, voice-controlled Sync communications and entertainment system. With all of that going on, you probably won’t sense your heart rate and breathing speeding up, or the bead of sweat trickling down your brow. But your car just might.
A “driver workload estimator” recently developed by Ford keeps tabs on the body behind the wheel so that in stressful situations, the car itself can prevent any distractions. Sensors in the steering wheel and seatbelt monitor the driver’s heartbeat, breathing, and body temperature, feeding this information through an algorithm to detect the physiological changes that signal a spike in stress. When the driver tenses up, the algorithm will cut out the distractions of music and incoming phone calls, leaving the human free to focus on the crisis at hand.
[via Wired’s Autopia]