Ford's health-monitoring cars: Too intrusive?

Ford is putting a medical twist on car design, with apps that help you soothe your allergies or avoid slipping into a diabetic stupor

Ford is developing voice-controlled apps that will help drivers manage health issues including allergies and blood sugar levels.
(Image credit: 2011 Ford Motor Company)

Ford is transforming its cars into personal health and lifestyle tools, with a set of voice-controlled apps that will perform wellness tasks like monitoring diabetics' blood sugar, or checking pollen counts for allergic drivers. The interactive tools could be on the market within a year or two. Given how much time people spend behind the wheel, says Ford's chief technology officer Paul Mascarenas, it's time to see "the car as more than just a car." But do we really want "smarter" cars that get intimately involved with our bodily functions?

This is a bit creepy: Ford has a point that cars are becoming people's second homes, and "most people would monitor their health issues at home," says Jamie LaReau at Automotive News. But at what point do these apps become "an intrusion in people's lives?" If they save lives, great, but at what cost? Do you really want your car wirelessly sharing your health data, or telling you what to eat?

"When it comes to driver health, where will Ford technology draw the line?"

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In-car apps will make everyone safer: The technology will only get better with time, says Richard Read at All Car Tech, moving from guessing about your health from online records to "more of a real-time monitoring system, tied directly to a driver's current physical condition." When our cars can tell if we're having a heart attack or stroke, or even had too much to drink, that won't just save us, it will "make the roads a little safer."

"Ford Sync could soon monitor your blood pressure, too"

Won't this make driving more dangerous? OK, our automotive "future is here, and it asks a lot of questions," says Emily Abbate at The Stir. But won't this be a major distraction? GPS navigation is great, but you set it up before you drive. Talking to your car about your health sounds more like texting and driving. I get that this is about making us safer, but it sounds like it "could ultimately be more hurtful than helpful."

"New Ford app could run you off the road"

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