“My Audi Cares for me”, that’s the new motto for the Audi Fit Driver program. This project focuses on monitoring the well-being of its driver and then trying to adapt to the driver’s mood in an attempt to relieve stress, calm nerves or just make the driver happy in general. This may sound quite gimmicky, if it does that’s because it kind of is, but the technology behind it is quite impressive and Audi decided to show it off at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show.
While wearing either a fitness monitor or smart watch (such as an Apple Watch or Fitbit), the monitor relays the information its getting (such as heart rate and skin temperature) to the car which will then adjust in-car systems to help relax, vitalize or protect the driver. These in-car system changes can come by way of a specific seat massage (if you have an Audi with optional seat massagers), a change in climate, infotainment changes and even mood lighting.
Audi’s Fit Driver program can also use the readings to monitor stress and, if detected, will prompt a series of breathing exercises on the infotainment screen. Though, this might be a touch unsafe to do while driving and seems a bit silly.
However, one aspect of the Audi Fit Driver program that isn’t silly at all is when it can monitor whether or not the driver needs a break. I’m sure all of you readers have experience serious fatigue at least once in your life, where you struggle to keep your eyes open on the road. This is incredibly dangerous, not just for the driver but surrounding drivers as well. Depending on traffic flow, heart rate and body temperature, the Audi Fit Driver system can tell if it’s a good idea to pull over at a rest station and take a break, maybe get something to eat or drink. And say the car realizes the driver falls asleep, the Audi can execute an emergency stop and place an emergency call, via the car’s eCall function.
This is all very interesting, if somewhat gimmicky, technology. While the mood lighting is pretty much unnecessary, the ability to keep drivers awake, suggest they take a break or even emergency stop, all based on the driver’s body, can be incredibly useful and maybe even save lives. I can admit that there were times that I wished I had a system like that. Now I just have to buy a Fitbit.