DETROIT -- Ford Motor Co. today announced the development of a seat that monitors a driver's heart rate -- another product in the automaker's move toward in-car health technologies for drivers with medical conditions.
"As always in medicine, the earlier a condition is detected the easier it is to treat and this technology even has the potential to be instrumental in diagnosing conditions drivers were previously unaware they had," Dr. Achim Lindner, medical officer for Ford's European research and innovation center, said in a statement.
The joint project between Ford and Aachen University in Germany uses six electrode sensors in the backrest to monitor the driver's heart rate.
"The sensors use a very specially designed system and carefully researched materials to be able to give a good signal without contact on the skin," Lindner said in the statement. "We are still fine-tuning their operation to work with some materials; certain types of synthetic fabric and lamb's wool can cause electrical interference that upsets the signal, but we can achieve a strong signal through 10 layers of cotton."
Although the seat is in the "early stages of development," initial test results were promising. In stationary testing, the seat was compatible with 90 to 95 percent of subjects, while mobile testing in the Ford S-Max displayed accurate readings 98 percent of the time, Ford said.