Remember Knight Rider? That cheesy ’80s show starring David Hasselhoff and KITT, the most hopped-up Trans Am ever to hit the airwaves? Or maybe you caught the short-lived remake a few years back. KITT was more than just a car. Given voice by William Daniels in the original version, KITT had personality, impeccable judgement, and more than a little sarcastic wit. A hot sports car that did everything from terrorize bad guys to remind the Hoff to pick up his dry cleaning. In May, Ford revealed a partnership with WellDoc that brings diabetics one step closer to KITT…in the family car.
The pioneer effort began with diabetes monitoring, but will expand into other medical areas. The program, which is approved by the FDA, allows diabetics to manage and monitor the disease by entering information about medications, diet, food intake, and exercise using spoken interface with Ford’s SYNC service, which in turn communicates with the owner’s cell phone and computer. And much like KITT, the system will call for help if its owner is in trouble – to a medical provider or designated contact if the diabetic owner reports that he has not eaten properly, neglected to take medication, or is not following the outlined exercise regime.
“Our goal is to further innovate the automotive space by incorporating health-and-wellness services into the car, thereby making them convenient and easily accessible to our customers — all while keeping their safety in mind. Delivering real-time, in-vehicle health management services is a revolutionary concept that we are proud to spearhead with WellDoc, a pioneer in the mobile health space.” – Venkatesh Prasad, group and technical leader of the Infotronics research and innovation team at Ford Motor.
The theory is sound. People are so busy today that finding time to get proper nutrition, enough exercise, and even enough sleep can be difficult. We spend a lot of time in our cars, and interactive vehicle software makes it easy to enter vital information, like what we ate for lunch or when we last exercised, simply by chatting while we drive. Consistency is the key to diabetes control. Tracking information helps diabetics to stay focused and avoid the dangerous highs and lows of blood glucose. The innovative WellDoc DiabetesManager System software provides coaching, timely advice, and behavioral suggestions. Features include a medication adherence program with secure, real-time transmission of blood glucose data. This allows the program to run the data through analysis using proprietary software that identifies trends and offers a personalized behavior modification plan derived from real-time data. The Hoff would be proud.
I predict that people will embrace the technology, but I’m not convinced that the instructions will be helpful. People neglect to do things they should for a wide variety of reasons. For those that actually forget to take medications or eat lunch, a timely reminder could be a lifesaver. For a person who doesn’t have time to exercise or left his medication in a hotel room in Idaho and is waiting for a refill, a reminder won’t be much help. What do you think? Will this technology result in better control for diabetics on the go, or be more annoying than a backseat mother-in-law?