My Doctor The Car: A Ride That Could Detect Heart Attacks

Nov 8, 2011

Ever used one of those machines at the gym where you can place your hands on the grips and it'll track your heart rate? German scientists - probably the ones who spend a lot of time working out  - wondered if they could put those sensors in the steering wheel of a car to detect driver stress.

The sensors in the steering wheel can measure vital signs of the driver. Heart rate. Check. Stress. Check. Blood pressure. Check. While the system can be used to check for vital signs, it may also be used to detect more serious conditions like a heart attack.

"When a stress situation is detected by means of skin conductance values, phone calls can be blocked, for instance, or the volume of the radio turned down automatically. With more serious problems the system could turn on the hazard warning lights, reduce the speed or even induce automated emergency braking,” Lueth said.

Very clever use of technology, but I can see a catch here. If you're stressed out and your car decides to respond by turning the radio down, will you a) calmly recognize you're in a potentially hazardous situation and pull over to seek help, or b) flip the heck out because your stupid car is turning the volume down right in the middle of the solo in "Rock You Like a Hurricane"? Exactly.

Actually it would be ironic for a car designed by German scientists to turn the volume down during a Scorpions song. But that's probably beside the point.