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Ford Partners with WellDoc and Medtronic to Develop In-Vehicle Diabetes Management

Published: 7/5/11
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For people with diabetes, driving a car can be dangerous. According to a study of crash data from the United Kingdom, commercial truck drivers with diabetes had a three-to-five-fold increase in crashes over those without diabetes. While these statistics are distressing, we are encouraged by new technology that should ease the burden that diabetes places on drivers.

In May, Ford Motor Co. unveiled two new innovations for on-board diabetes management. First, the auto-maker announced a partnership to develop an in-car version of WellDoc’s mobile phone-based DiabetesManager software (see NewNowNext in diaTribe #25). DiabetesManager maintains a virtual logbook and provides recommendations to the user based on real-time and historical tracking of user-provided information such as glucose status, medications, exercise habits, and diet information. The in-car version of DiabetesManager will use Ford’s AppLink technology, a SYNC feature that allows BlackBerry, iPhone, and Android phones to use approved applications via steering wheel buttons and voice control. Also exciting is the potential for location-based services such as informing drivers about healthy restaurant choices in the area. As we understand it, DiabetesManager is expected to launch for US employers in the second half of 2011, while the car-based version should roll out sometime in late 2012.

Ford also has a new partnership with Medtronic to link continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices to cars. The system would work using Bluetooth, with glucose levels and trends available through the in-car sound system and through visual displays. If glucose levels are outside the normal range, audible alerts would sound and eye-catching cues would be shown. Encouragingly, the applications of the system would go beyond the driver, since anyone in the car with a connected glucose device could be monitored (e.g., a sleeping child in the backseat). Ford said it anticipated a two-year launch timeframe, though Medtronic has emphasized that the project is still in early-stage research. --AB

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