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

Other blogs
Related Topics

I have a close friend with diabetes. That means after dining, she usually checks her blood glucose level before getting behind the wheel.

But what if, sometime, she forgot to check?

Ford Motor Co. is researching software applications that could be paired with its Sync in-car connectivity system to help people monitor all kinds of health issues such as diabetes, asthma, congestive heart failure, and allergies. Ford is collaborating with health management software developers and manufacturers of glucose monitoring devices.

The system, for example, could display or transmit an alert to my friend if her blood glucose level was too low.

Ford believes a car is a second home to many commuters. Most people would monitor their health issues at home, so why not in their car, too?

"It's an extension of people's lives," says Paul Mascarenas, Ford's chief technical officer and vice president of research and innovation.

Fair enough, but when is it an intrusion in people's lives?

For the system to work, drivers must provide some of their health information to Ford's partner and software developer, WellDoc. WellDoc records diabetics' glucose levels. WellDoc COO Anan Iyer says a user's health records will have privacy protection.

Okay, but consider this: The system might also tell you the nutritional information for a nearby restaurant. Thus, it may discourage you from going there if you have high cholesterol and the menu is loaded with fried foods.

That's all good. But where does personal responsibility and common sense end, and where does technology that runs our lives began?

And how much will it cost consumers to subscribe to these services?

Ford is still studying how much consumer demand there is for such a system. The technology is no where near becoming a reality for at least a year or two.

I concede it could save lives if people use it right. That would be great.

But I would draw the line if they put a weight scale in the seat!

You can reach Jamie LaReau at jlareau@crain.com. -- Follow Jamie on Twitter

Have an opinion about this story? Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor, and we may publish it in print.

Or submit an online comment below. (Terms and Conditions)