New Ford Technology Can Tell When You're Stressed & Help Keep Your Eyes on the Road

By Sophie Bushwick | June 28, 2012 8:30 am

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]

  • floodmouse

    This is creepy. I don’t want a computer program deciding what sensory inputs I need while I’m driving. For one thing, if I was listening to the radio and it suddenly stopped playing, I would probably be so startled I would temporarily lose track of the road. The part about blocking incoming phone calls doesn’t actually bother me. However, a lot of people use the radio (or recorded music) as a way of decreasing stress. The rhythm of the music syncs with the rhythm of your heartbeat and breathing. Suddenly turning it off is not likely to help your concentration, in my not so humble opinion.

  • IW

    It would be more effective if they added a laser to the car which would automatically zap the jackasses who are driving badly….

  • fintin

    So are the scrapping the driverless-cars idea for now? Or are we just closer to this thing?

  • Marley

    “911, state the nature of your emergency.”

    “Hello, 911, I’m stuck in traffic and there’s a pain shooting down my left arm…” (*click*) “Hello? Hello?!”


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