Call me crazy, but Detroit is going incredibly health conscious and has begun developing technology that will be able to monitor glucose levels, provide severe allergy alerts and keep medical records available all at the touch of a button in your car’s interior. Ford Motor Company and their SYNC technology are leading the way.

This week, Ford researchers demonstrated a series of possible in-car health and wellness connectivity services and apps aimed at helping people with chronic illnesses or medical disorders such as diabetes, asthma or allergies manage their condition while on the go. They will work with industry leaders in each sector to bring the best of the best health technologies to the mobile public.

First, let’s talk about the millions that suffer from diabetes. 25.8 million children and adults in the United States, or 8.3% of the population have diabetes.

Working with Medtronic, a leading manufacturer of glucose monitoring devices, Ford researchers have developed a prototype system that allows Ford SYNC to connect via Bluetooth to a Medtronic continuous glucose monitoring device and share glucose levels and trends through audio and a center stack display and provide secondary alerts if levels are too low.

For people with diabetes and their caregivers, constant knowledge and control of glucose levels is critical to avoiding hypoglycemia or low glucose, which can cause confusion, lightheadedness, blurry vision and a host of other symptoms that could be dangerous while driving. Many now depend on a portable continuous glucose monitoring device to track their levels.

According to the American Diabetes Association, nearly 26 million adults and children are currently living with diabetes in the U.S., three million plus more than there were four years ago.

James Dallas, senior vice president, Medtronic explains:

“To address the growing challenge of chronic diseases, Medtronic is collaborating with companies like Ford to develop innovative solutions. Diabetes in particular is a chronic disease where frequent monitoring of blood glucose levels throughout the day is critical. As medical and consumer technologies converge, Medtronic is uniquely positioned to provide patients, caregivers and physicians with actionable insight from the data our devices can gather from the human body. By utilizing information technology and consumer electronic devices, we can help patients actively manage their health via access to real-time data on phones, hand-held devices or even in their cars.”

Okay. That’s awesome. Now what about allergies? Pollen counts are at an all time high and you never know when or where you will be attacked with redness, stuffy nose and a host of other symptoms.

Ford is working with SDI Health and to SYNC-enable its smartphone Allergy Alert app through AppLink, giving users voice-controlled access to the app that provides location-based day-by-day index levels for pollen; asthma, cold and cough and ultraviolet sensitivity; as well as four-day forecasts.

Those with asthma and allergies need to have a clear understanding of their environment and potential symptom triggers, such as pollen levels in the air that can quickly lead to an attack. Growing in popularity among this group are Web based alert services and smartphone apps that can help flag dangerous pollen levels based on location.

Jody Fisher, vice president of Marketing for SDI comments:

“Our developers initially created the iPhone app to provide users with greater access to the information they’ve come to rely on from Having instant, portable access for their conditions helps users plan their day or week ahead so they can remain active, which ultimately improves their quality of life. Collaborating with Ford is the perfect extension of this objective. We are happy to support Ford’s initiative of connecting drivers with resources and services important to their health and wellness.”

An underlying consumer demand for being in the know about one’s health while on the go also continues to rise, fueling the growing number and breadth of mobile healthcare devices and health- and fitness-related software and smartphone applications hitting the market today.

Gary Strumolo, global manager, Interiors, Infotainment, Health & Wellness Research, Ford Research and Innovation finalizes:

“Ford’s approach to health and wellness in the vehicle is not about trying to take on the role of a healthcare or medical provider, we’re a car company. Our goal is not to interpret the data offered by the experts, but to work with them to develop intelligent ways for Ford vehicles using the power of SYNC, creating a secondary alert system and alternate outlet for real-time patient coaching services if you will.”

Sources: Ford Motor Company, The American Diabetes Association and SDI Health

Written by Sy Kraft