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Ford develops heart rate monitoring seat

Ford develops heart rate monitoring seatFord engineers have developed a car seat that can monitor a driver’s heartbeat, opening the door to a wealth of health, convenience and even life-saving potential.

A joint project undertaken by experts from Ford’s European Research and Innovation Centre in Aachen, Germany and Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule (RWTH) Aachen University, the seat uses six special embedded sensors to detect electrical impulses generated by the heart.

Data collected by the sensors, for example, could be analysed by medical experts or on-board computer software. Possibilities therefore abound, from linking to remote medical services and Ford vehicle safety systems to even providing real-time health information and alerts of imminent cardiovascular issues such as a heart attack.

At the heart of the research
The heart rate monitor seat is the latest addition in the Ford research portfolio of possible in-car health and wellness solutions aimed at helping people with chronic illnesses or medical disorders manage their condition while on the go.

In May, Ford also announced research into how it is leveraging Ford SYNC® and its ability to connect devices via Bluetooth, access cloud-based Internet services and control smartphone apps to develop industry-first voice-controlled in-car connections to an array of health aids from glucose monitoring devices, diabetes management services, asthma management tools and Web-based allergen alert solutions.

The seat sensor technology under development could initially be of most benefit to drivers known to have heart conditions – primarily those in more mature age groups, a globally growing population.

Initial testing
Working with RWTH Aachen University, Ford developed the six-sensor system positioned on the surface of the seat backrest. The unobtrusive electrodes have been specially designed to be able to detect the electronic signature of the heart through clothing.

In stationary testing, 90 to 95 percent of subjects proved to be compatible and on-road testing of the Ford heart rate monitoring seat proved it was possible to achieve highly accurate readings for up to 98 percent of the time spent behind the wheel, even at this early stage of development.

Image Caption - Heart Rate Monitoring Seat: Six electrodes are integrated with the Ford vehicle seat and will not affect daily use in any way.

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