It measures your blood pressure, switches on the massage seats if you are stressed, and intervenes itself in a medical emergency: The car of the future is set to become a health manager – connectivity makes it possible.
Regardless of where you are feeling a twinge, the car of tomorrow can help: On stressful days, it puts on relaxing music and launches the meditation app. It gives an alert if it detects high blood pressure, puts you through for a video consultation with your GP, and brakes autonomously if there’s an emergency at the wheel and calls the emergency services. Manufacturers and suppliers right across the automotive sector are already working today on solutions like these. In future, they could become standard and supplement the offer in driver assist systems. It’s called “automotive health”, where health services move on-board and turn the car into a health coach.
This is a compelling development, because health and wellness are megatrends, and digitizing them is a growth market. In 2019, according to Statista, sales in the global digital health market ran to around USD 106 billion, and by 2026 the market volume could grow to around USD 640 billion. At the same time, the step towards fully-autonomous driving will bring new freedoms with it, but also requirements in relation to the experience of driving a car – and ultimately create more time for drivers. In future, that time could usefully be filled with an online consultation with a cardiologist, or a short time-out from the day-to-day.
To do its job, the automotive health manager of the future will need one thing, above all: data. This data is set to be gathered in the car itself or via connected services, and evaluated using artificial intelligence (AI). Sensors on the steering wheel or in the seat could measure vital signs data, for example, allowing inferences to be made regarding the current physical status of the person in the driver’s seat. With the advance of connectivity, the car is also able to access more and more data, for instance from fitness trackers.
At the technical level, a lot is already possible today in the field of “automotive health”. For example, the camera system from the Israeli start-up ContinUse Biometric. It measures statistics such as the driver’s pulse rate and blood pressure while driving. An AI analyses the results in a dedicated Cloud, permitting conclusions to be drawn about stress levels, for instance – practically a medical check-up on the road.
The car manufacturers, too, are working on systems to adapt the driving experience and the interior to the driver’s physical condition. Some time ago, the “Audi Fit Driver” project started the development of the empathetic car, which adjusts to its driver in order to make every journey as stress-free as possible. In a show car several years ago, Mercedes had given us an insight into the vision of the car as “health hub”. BMW, too, has done pioneering work in this area with a research project on an emergency stop assistant that recognizes emergency situations when driving, before then bringing the car autonomously to a stop and immediately sending out an emergency call – and these are just three examples, from many in the sector. Although factors such as the issue of data security, the statutory specifications and even the maturity of individual technologies are still acting as a brake on progression, the signs are set for “automotive health”. So the future could become fairly relaxed – and ideally all-round healthy.
Stage Photo: @ Daimler
The IAA MOBILITY is transforming itself from a pure car show to an international mobility platform with four pillars: the Summit, the Conference, the “Blue Lane” and the downtown Munich Open Space. Under the slogan of “What will move us next”, it stands for the digital and climate-neutral mobility of the future. From 7 to 12 September 2021, the car, bike and tech industries come together at IAA MOBILITY in Munich.