The automotive journal Ward estimates that more than a billion cars are currently plying on our roads. With increasing personal mobility leading to traffic chaos and jams, it can sometimes feel like we spend more than half of our day in vehicles. Public transportation is not very efficient in many countries which is why individual automobile ownership is very high. In the U.S for example, there are more than 700 vehicles for every 1000 people! Since we spend so much time in our vehicles, it is a given that we need to feel safe and secure within them. The In-Vehicle Occupant Health Monitoring Market came into existence to serve this very vital niche.
We are slowly but surely heading towards a future where automobiles will realise if their in-vehicle occupants are incapacitated, allowing them to take control of the vehicle, park it on the side of the road and call the nearest medical institution. This is considered the future of the car which will become commonplace in the next decade or so. At present, though, the In-Vehicle Occupant Health Monitoring Market only includes equipment which contacts emergency services in case of an accident or monitors the vital signs of vehicle occupants. It is anticipated to have a huge impact on road safety in the future and will dramatically reduce accidents.
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A National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated that the driver was responsible for 94% of the crashes in the survey period and 7% of those were ‘non-performance errors’ i.e either drowsiness or some serious medical condition. 1.3% were due to a medical emergency and 84% of drivers in those crashes had experienced seizures. Reducing the high number of road accident casualties is the biggest driver of the In-Vehicle Occupant Health Monitoring Market. An ageing population in developed countries is far more likely to face problems like Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), Diabetes, Cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive impairment.
The biggest constraint in the In-Vehicle Occupant Health Monitoring Market is privacy concerns. These devices are meant to measure, monitor, transmit, and record health status information of the occupants, giving rise to the question of data protection and privacy. Health insurance Acts worldwide usually set rights for personal health information and prescribe rules over who can review and receive it. This is applicable to any form of information, be it oral, written or electronic but the In-vehicle health monitoring equipment market might not be covered. People can also have legitimate concerns about their health information being exploited or misused. Data security when it is stored in a vehicle, portable device or both needs to be fool proof so that it cannot be manipulated by external sources.
A second challenge in the In-Vehicle Occupant Health Monitoring Market is performance issues. These systems would definitely require extensive testing for repeatability, reliability and reproducibility. The number of false-positive identifications should be minimised and true-positives maximised. Improper calibration either from the occupant or buggy software can have potentially life-threatening consequences.
The third problem is largely psychological issues. Some drivers or occupants may not wish to share real-time health data. This can happen when the vehicle is not driven by the owner or for a designated driver whose information is not entered in the system. Some people might not be comfortable providing confidential data to a machine. Taxis or rental cars might not even install them at all or give their occupants the option of opting out.
The U.S has the highest personal mobility worldwide, with nearly 800 people per 1000 owning their own vehicle. Thus, they would be the largest In-Vehicle Occupant Health Monitoring Market for some time to come. Rapidly rising car ownership in China and India make them the markets to look out for in the long run. The latter in particular has both a very low vehicle density and the highest number of road fatalities, making it a market too big to ignore.
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