With obesity in America still on the rise, automakers are beginning to design products that cater to the brimming waistlines of an increasingly plump nation. According to the CDC, diabetes, a medical condition heavily correlated with obesity, has also been diagnosed much more frequently over the last ten years. Health risks for diabetics can be dire, as sufferers need to monitor their blood glucose levels frequently or risk having their “blood sugar” exceed, or wane below critical levels. If this occurs the afflicted faces severe and immediate health and safety concerns, such as, coma, stroke, and even death. Needless to say, driving (especially long distances) can pose a challenge for diabetics.
According to Ford Motor Co. (NYSE:F), the future of car sales lies creating a safe and healthy in-car environment for diabetic consumers. New models of Ford’s popular car lines are set to make practice of this preaching, as they claim to have integrated medical monitoring devices with vehicle components. Prominent among these medical features is a car seat made for the diabetic driver, that checks blood pressure and heart rate at regular intervals, and an air monitoring device that will monitor passengers’ breathing rate as well as test for airborne pollen counts. Ford is in talks about contracting Washington D.C. based firm Medtronic, Inc. (NYSE:MDT), to provision its in-car healthcare systems.
Paul Mascarenas, Ford’s chief technology office, thinks these developments were indispensable to the future of the customer in-car experience, saying “The car is more than just a car… People spend almost an entire week a year on the road and that’s expected to increase. The car is a private space for conducting personal business. We see health and wellness as a core area.”
Ford (NYSE:F) is not the first automaker to build driver health and safety provisions into vehicles. General Motors (NYSE:GM), through its OnStar service, now offers in-car emergency health instructions.