Editor’s note : Garima Jain’s co-author on this blog was Pushdeep Bahade, an electrical engineer from Maharashtra, India.
The penetration of technology in mobility solutions is increasing. But automated cars and connected cars are about more than just being technologies which are charming. Some of the solutions they are likely to offer in the future can be expected to change the lives of people at the grassroots level.
The two biggest reasons of deaths today worldwide are heart attacks and strokes. Every year worldwide there are 32.4 million heart attacks and strokes causing 14 million deaths1 . The sooner stricken individuals are treated, the better. According to a study, not controlling blood pressure condition, which often goes undetected in young people, leads to 55,000 people dying from stroke, heart attacks and early death.2 . How this is related to the world of automotive? Well, the number of individuals who are alone in a car, driving all by themselves is increasing. This is often the college going youth or the professionals who drive every day to office. A connected car can help save the lives of these people with a timely detection of the situation.
Technologies that help bring this idea to life
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Photonic Microsystems (IPMS) are working to develop a system with which the ECG signals of the driver can be continuously monitored without there being a need for any device to be physically in touch with his skin. The sensors in this system rely on capacitance in the form of large metal plates embedded in the driver’s seat. This system is able to detect the electrical signals associated with the heartbeats even through all these layers too. This passive approach means that the driver does not have to wear a separate device, or deal with possible skin irritation that can occur when wearing contact electrodes for long periods of time, and is therefore biologically unharmed3 .
How does the system work?
The driver will have to enter his AMR (Ambulatory Medical Records), which is an electronically stored file of a patient’s outpatient medical records, into the car database, as soon as he turns ON the ignition of the car. When the driver is driving all alone and needs an emergency medical assistance which will be known through the signals read from the real-time ECG monitoring of the patient and other technologies, the car will broadcast a message with its GPS location and the AMR of the patient. The car will pull over while doing this. The medical history of the patient is already available with the hospitals through AMR, which includes all surgeries and procedures that the driver may have gone through in the past, it will help the doctors to quickly understand the patients’ condition and conclude on the fastest way to save his life.
Can this help improve the medical infrastructure in the developing world?
Now think of such a system in the developing world, where the problem of traffic congestion is so grave that the average time taken by an ambulance to take the patient from his place to the hospital is 40 minutes. At least the lives of patients who die on roads because of such medical conditions can be saved if a system of connected cars and ambulances be made. Ambulances, hospitals and cars all interconnected, seamlessly, in a system.
Through this technology and the power of telemedicine, patients can be given a life-saving first aid treatment at the place where the car itself is. Let’s talk about what happens after the car broadcasts the message containing the GPS location and the patient AMR. The entire network of hospitals and ambulances connected with the car will receive this message. The hospitals can access the medical history of the patient through his AMR and then one of the hospitals, whose ambulance is nearest to the patient location, will instruct one of the ambulances to reach the patient.
In the time that the ambulance takes to reach the car, the hospital can ensure that a doctor is ready for a video conferencing with the paramedics in the ambulance to give the patient a life-saving drug or treatment, before he is driven to the hospital by the ambulance. Once the patient is in the ambulance, through basic instruments like the ECG machine etc. the vital information of the patient can be measured and sent over a wireless connection across to the doctor. The system has been summarized in the figures 1-5 below:
Are connected cars and autonomous cars just technological marvels with little relevance and practical usefulness? The authors strongly disagree, in our opinion connected and autonomous cars together will make the world a safer place to be in. Till date, the active and passive safety systems in cars were frequently talked about, protecting the drivers of the car in case of any eventualities caused or any potential mishaps on the road, but with added medical emergency aids the safety that these smart cars provide is going to touch a whole new level.
Please share your comments, ideas and experiences on this topic with our readers to start an interesting discussion.
Pushdeep has always been fascinated by automation and he has worked on some interesting automation-based academic projects during his engineering career. He believes that it is commendable how technology has transformed and is transforming millions of lives. He should know since he is from a country of more than a billion people with a fast-emerging technology.
He did his summer Internship with Linkedin and specializes in Technology Marketing and product strategy areas of expertise. Pushdeep is a socially motivated individual who is keen on getting an in-depth knowledge of social entrepreneurship.