By now you know all about how a driver’s condition can negatively affect driving abilities. Stress, distraction and other factors can all reduce one’s ability to perceive the traffic scene, make good decisions, and execute any risk-reducing maneuvers. That’s where Ford’s new biometric system comes in- it’s designed to help drivers reduce their stress and maintain focus on the road.
The system features sensors in the steering wheel and driver’s seat, which measure heart rate, breathing rate, and body temperature (via an external thermometer, thank goodness…). All this information is then combined with data about the traffic flow immediately around the vehicle and about how the vehicle is being operated. A “driver workload” estimate is then computed, which determines whether the driver has reached a potentially dangerous sensory overload condition.
If the system identifies that such a condition exists, it determines whether connected devices (cell phones, etc.) should be muted or temporarily disabled. Incoming calls and texts would be blocked, and even the radio volume could be automatically reduced. The goal is to prevent the driver from becoming further overloaded, and instead allow him or her to focus solely on driving safely.
Although this system is not yet available from Ford, it represents an interesting approach to utilizing technology to help a driver remain focused on the road, or at least prevent an increase in mental workload. No word yet whether the system would also help drivers by automatically muting a “backseat driver”…