Devices that check whether you're too drunk to drive are nothing new, but now a group of German researchers want to take that type of driver assessment a step further. Their smart steering wheel constantly checks the driver's vital signs, looking for any indicators of a pending medical emergency.
Developed at the Munich Technical University in collaboration with BMW, the wheel has built in sensors that can measure your heart rate, blood-oxygen level and blood pressure. If things start to fall outside the normal range, the system can take over partial control of the car, blocking phone calls, turning down the radio, turning on the hazard flashers and even slowing or stopping the car.
The system can also be set up to transmit the collected data for further analysis, alerting your doctor to a potentially dangerous situation.
This all sounds very high-tech, but how secure will all of that collected data be? Will your insurance company try to jack up your rates, by claiming that you're always stressed out behind the wheel? If this becomes the norm, I predict a resurgence of interest in driving gloves.