– Ford, Microsoft, Healthrageous and BlueMetal Architects announced an alliance
today to research technology to help people monitor and maintain health and
wellness while on the move.
The alliance was unveiled during the “Doctor in Your Car”
keynote address at the Digital Health Summit at the International CES.
“People are spending more time in their cars, and with the
tremendous growth in mobile healthcare solutions, Ford is dedicated to
understanding the value of being able to connect to health and wellness-related
services while driving,” said Gary Strumolo, manager of Infotainment,
Interiors, Health and Wellness at Ford Research and Innovation. “Our
connectivity platform – Ford SYNC – provides easy, voice-controlled access to mobile
devices such as smartphones and tablets, and therefore it makes sense to
research areas that are important to our customers.”
Customer research and societal trends suggest theres a
strong business case for Ford to explore opportunities in health and wellness
technology, Strumolo said.
Health info online and on the go
While chronic illnesses are on the rise, the number of healthcare providers has
remained relatively flat, which effectively limits patient access. For this
reason and others, people of all ages and from all income groups are taking a
more hands-on approach to their own health and wellness.
More people now visit online health sites than go to the
doctors office, making health and wellness the most popular activity on the
Web after email and general searches.
The reasons why are not hard to understand. According to a
study conducted by Pew Research:
- 93 percent said they seek out online health information
because its convenient – they want to get information on their own timetable,
not the doctors
- 83 percent said its because they can get more information
from the Web than they can get from their own doctor
- 80 percent said getting this information privately is
important to them
Moreover, beginning last year, medical and healthcare was
the third-fastest-growing category of smartphone apps, with more than 17,000
available for download.
And by 2015, some 500 million people are expected to be
using mobile healthcare apps.
“Taken together, these trends point to a natural role for
the automobile in the emerging digital health and wellness field,” Strumolo
The car that cares
Strumolo said Ford seeks to develop “the car that cares.” As people spend more
time in their cars, the ability to manage health and wellness on the go becomes
more important. There are several reasons why the automobile is an ideal
platform for research and development in this area:
- Its convenient and private
- It facilitates personalized access to the information,
products and services people need
- And its a logical place for them to manage their health
while they are more often stuck in traffic
The goal is to figure out how to extend health management
into the personal vehicle in a nonintrusive fashion. The prototype system was
designed by BlueMetal Architects.
Using information collected from blood pressure monitors,
activity monitors and glucose meters along with behavioral data shared by the
user, Healthrageous is able to help people lead healthier lifestyles by
shedding unhealthy habits.
Microsofts contribution is to translate robotic sensory
information provided by the vehicle into an application that also provides a
voice and touch-screen interface, while integrating biometrical data that come
from a wearable device.
Ford SYNC allows this all to be done hands-free.
“This alliance signifies an important step in bringing
health innovation into peoples everyday lives,” said Todd Bremner, chief
technical officer for BlueMetal Architects. “Fords SYNC platform allows us to
imagine, design and build natural user experiences leveraging voice and touch,
which seamlessly bring wellness into your everyday commute.”
How it works
The system would capture biometric and vehicle data as the basis for real-time
health and wellness advice and monitoring.
The driver can provide voice inputs, detailing important
aspects of his or her health routine – such as the number of glasses of water
consumed during the day, or what pills have been taken.
The data received from the driver are then uploaded into the
HealthVault cloud, at which point they are transferred to Windows Azure. The
information is processed with other health data, which are used to create
graphical reports the driver can access after having left the vehicle.
“Its all about making health more accessible, and engaging
and thereby helping more people lead healthier and more enriching lives,” said
Mary Beth Chalk, Healthrageous cofounder and chief marketing officer.
About Ford Motor Company
Motor Company, a global automotive industry leader based in Dearborn, Mich.,
manufactures or distributes automobiles across six continents. With about
166,000 employees and about 70 plants worldwide, the companys automotive
brands include Ford and Lincoln. The company provides financial services
through Ford Motor Credit Company. For more information regarding Ford and its
products worldwide, please visit http://corporate.ford.com.
Healthrageous, Inc. is a health engagement company that delivers digital,
self-management prevention and chronic condition health solutions via the web
and a mobile app. It achieves superior engagement through its proprietary
platform that incorporates personalized goal setting, health journey map with
gaming dynamics, timely biometric feedback and interactive digital coaching.
The digital coach, leverages multiple tools such as inspirational messages,
recognition and incentives, challenges, social networking, trackers and
reminders and interactive educational content, Healthrageous is headquartered
in Boston, MA
and its investors include North Bridge Venture Partners (Boston,
MA/San Mateo, CA), Egan Managed Capital (Boston,
MA) and Long River Ventures (Amherst, MA).
For more information, go to www.healthrageous.com.
About BlueMetal Architects
Founded in 2010, BlueMetal Architects is an interactive design and technology
architecture firm which specializes in the development of innovative
applications and experiences. Our goal is the creation of outstanding solutions
which positively impact how our customers do business with a focus on creative
design married to advanced software architectures. BlueMetal is a privately
held company and is headquartered in Watertown,
Massachusetts. For more
information, visit http://www.bluemetal.com.
Posted by Sean Fenske, Editor-in-Chief, MDT