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Ford's SYNC Checks Up on Your Health

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author photo by Autotrader May 2011

You've probably never considered how your car could help keep you healthy (beyond protecting you in a crash). It may even sound a bit like Big Brother is watching. But Ford thinks that SYNC, its in-car infotainment system, could be extended to help monitor health signs, giving people with chronic illnesses the tools to manage their condition while on the go.

To make its health-monitoring goals a reality, Ford is teaming up with healthcare firms like medical equipment manufacturer Medtronic, disease management website WellDoc, and healthcare analytics group SDI Health. These companies are experts in helping people with illnesses like diabetes, asthma, and allergies to manage and monitor their body constantly.

It may sound complicated, but actually the idea is rather simple – and logical. An example demonstrated by Ford utilizes the case of a diabetic monitoring glucose levels, commonly recorded using websites like WellDoc. When a diabetic person gets into the car, the system will prompt for a recent glucose measurement, and then record it in the user's account on the site. It will also send a text message to the driver's contact person notifying that the diabetic will be behind the wheel, and can even caution disease sufferers not to drive if levels are dangerous.

"Ford SYNC is well known in the industry and with consumers as a successful in-car infotainment system, but we want to broaden the paradigm, transforming SYNC into a tool that can help improve people's lives as well as the driving experience," said Paul Mascarenas, chief technology officer and vice president of Ford Research and Innovation.

And disease management is just the beginning. One day, Ford wants SYNC to be able to measure and help reduce stress and heart rate, while increasing relaxation. A nine-month study conducted by Ford and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) concluded that drivers are less stressed when using safety-focused vehicle technologies like active park assist and cross-traffic alert – and if SYNC could constantly monitor a driver's stress levels, it may help the automaker discover other possibilities to help make driving a calmer experience.

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Ford's SYNC Checks Up on Your Health - Autotrader