Posted on October 25, 2013 by Stone Hearth News

3d man going with red carLAWRENCE — This fall, students enrolled in ADS 560, an advanced design studio course at the Center for Design Research (CDR), will investigate the integration of Bayer HealthCare’s blood-glucose monitoring technology with the on-board computer system of an automobile. Wireless technology from Sprint would enable data to be exchanged between the car and cloud-based medical records.

The need to marry glucose monitoring with a vehicle might seem farfetched. But drivers who suddenly experience abnormally low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can become dangerously impaired by dizziness, confusion, delayed reaction times and visual aberrations. Despite the danger, a recent study of 202 people with hypoglycemia done by the Department of Diabetes at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh found that 60 percent of respondents did not test their blood sugar before getting behind the wheel. Seventy-seven percent of that group didn’t carry blood glucose meters while driving.

Law enforcement is becoming more aware of the potential problem. More than 20 states in the U.S. ask driver’s license applicants whether they have diabetes. Some require medical exams of those who do to determine whether they can be issued a license to drive.

But there is still a gap between awareness of the issue and a practical means of improving safety of those who might experience hypoglycemia behind the wheel. Merging Bayer Healthcare’s blood glucose monitoring technology with increasingly powerful in-car computer systems holds great promise for helping diabetic drivers stay on the road safely.

CDR director and professor of design Greg Thomas thinks cars could produce in-vehicle health reports that would display glucose levels for diabetic drivers. If their blood sugar level became too low or high, an alert would sound or a signal could appear on a display or issue an audible warning Drivers could then stop and take corrective measures.

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