Wearables: A perfect fit for Ford

Ford scientists and engineers are exploring how wearable technology can integrate with cars to improve driver safety.

Smart watches, glasses and wrist bands are becoming ever-more popular, and Ford researchers at its new Automotive Wearables Experience laboratory in Michigan are examining the potential to link that information to in-vehicle technology.

‘We are evaluating many different wearable devices and applications. The potential in this space is endless.’

Gary Strumolo, global manager for vehicle design and infotronics, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering, said, ‘As more consumers begin to embrace smart watches, glasses and fitness bands, we hope to develop future applications that work with those devices to enhance in-car functionality and drivers’ personal safety.’

Among those technologies being looked at is Lane Keep Assist, which could become more sensitive if a smart watch sends data to the vehicle that infers the driver didn’t get enough sleep the previous night.

Also, if a driver’s heart rate increases as traffic intensifies, the vehicle could increase the distance between vehicles for software like Adaptive Cruise Control or Blind Spot Information System.

Strumulo said, ‘Wearable technology integrated with the vehicle allows for more accurate biometric data to stream continuously and alert active safety systems to become more sensitive if the driver is showing signs of compromised health.’

Wearable innovations are part of Ford Smart Mobility, which is intended to take the company to the next level of connectivity, mobility, autonomous vehicles, customer experience and analytics.

Autonomous Driving Applications

The Ford wearables lab is examining ways to signal to a person – via write vibrations, chimes or flashing lights on the dashboard –when to retake control from the vehicle because of roadworks or an accident, for example.

Voice Control, Customer Experience

The Ford wearables lab research is testing voice control for the smartwatch version of the MyFord Mobile app, which allows drivers to remotely start, lock, unlock and locate their vehicle via a smartphone and watch app.

Also, Ford is exploring smartglasses that will give customers information about the vehicle they’re looking at in a dealership.

Strumulo added, ‘We are evaluating many different wearable devices and applications. The potential in this space is endless, from helping to keep Ford drivers healthier and safer behind the wheel to offering an enhanced customer experience in dealerships.’