Toyota has some good news for hypochondriacs. The company is said to be working on a steering wheel with a built-in electrocardiogram (ECG). In future, cars would be able to tell people if they were having arrhythmia or even if they were having a heart attack.
The set-up is simple, with contact sensors embedded in the steering wheel to detect abnormal heart rhythms via the driver's hands.
The company recently showed off a Prius fitted with the embedded steering wheel to a group of reporters at a facility in Japan, according to Medgadget.
The ECG info was also shown on the in-car navigation screen, which meant that one day, one could casually check one's heart rate along with the weather and local news.
The system uses an optical sensor mounted in the steering wheel, which picks up a single-lead ECG signal, and alerts the driver through the display regarding any abnormalities that need attention.
But Toyota is not alone in seeking to integrate health-related technology in its vehicles. Ford is also working on a car seat fitted with a built-in heart rate monitor, which could measure the human heartbeat through clothing without requirement of any skin contact.
Why, one might ask, would one possibly need to know one's heart rate while in a car? A daily reading of one's heart rate could result in patterns that would not be seen at the less-than-annual physical and perhaps with the number of Americans over 65 years of age set to more than double by 2050, it would not be unreasonable to expect the amount of in-car health incidents to increase accordingly.
If a vehicle could detect that a driver was having a heart attack, could alert him to pull over, and then automatically call 911, many lives could be saved.