Being that I did not own a car for a dozen years, the automobile app revolution had been completely passing me by. Now a resident of Los Angeles, I had no choice but to return to the wheel. While I was initially happy with simple evolutions, such as seat warmers, an entire species of in-car programs have been brought to life. I was told that Angelenos live in their autos, which helps account for the fact that 6,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries are now caused each year due to texting and chatting while driving. Fortunately, Ford's latest "connectivity solutions" should not bring about such toxic habits. In fact, they are all about warning you about toxicity.
Taking advantage of the boom in health-related apps -- the Ford page states that "medical and healthcare apps was the third fastest-growing category of smartphone applications in early 2010" -- researchers at the auto maker have targeted two distinct populations: those with diabetes and those suffering from asthma and/or allergies.
With an estimated 8.3% of the American population suffering from diabetes, researchers have teamed with glucose monitoring device manufacturer Medtronic to allow their latest bluetooth system, Ford SYNC, to connect to the a device that shares glucose levels, warning the driver if levels drop too low. Being that the consequences to sudden drops in sugar result in lightheadedness, confusion and blurry vision, this sort of warning system provides crucial knowledge to diabetes sufferers behind the wheel.
Asthma and allergy attacks are likewise not what you want to experience while driving; as someone that is no friend to pollen, I write this with knowledge. Thus, Ford teamed with SDI Health and pollen.com to synch its Allergy Alert Apt through Ford's AppLink, resulting in a voice-controlled in-car monitoring system that provides daily updates on pollen counts, ultraviolet sensitivity and four-day forecasts.
These apps are just the beginning of what Ford hopes to be an entire medical database available in its cars. Kudos to the researchers for helping us along. Now if only the automaker would use some of its corporate might to get the usage of cell phones while driving banned through legislation, we might see some real progress behind the wheel.
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