Obesity crisis hits car manufacturing industry
The ongoing global obesity crisis is becoming so severe car manufacturers have started to make bigger vehicles to accommodate for expanding waistlines.
Luxury car maker BMW has implemented a project called ‘Plump My Ride’ and is using 800 volunteers who range in size to test how driving ability is affected by obesity and weight problems.
The BMW study is looking at how the manufacturer can adapt its cars to make movements such as looking over the shoulder while reversing and getting in and out of cars more comfortable for drivers.
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According to Ralf Kaiser, from BMW's ergonomics team, the results of the study will enable the company to manufacture a car which will be used and driven comfortable by 95 percent of people.
He told the Sunday Times newspaper: “People are getting more obese and we want to find out how that limits their range of motion and how our vehicles can adapt to the changing needs of our customers.
“We know that a lot of overweight and obese people have problems in daily life, and in the car this starts with getting in and getting out.”
BMW have already introduced parking aids to its vehicles, most notably an in-car screen which shows the area into which the driver is reversing.
Kaiser added: “In general, these aren’t sporty people. We already have things like the parking distance control, which shows obstacles on a screen when you are reversing.
“For someone who can find it difficult to turn 140 degrees to look behind them, they can now just look at the screen.
BMW is not the only car manufacturer looking to make its cars accessible to bigger drivers.
Honda is planning to introduce bigger buttons to its cars to make them easier for people to use with chubby fingers and over the past few years it has made its car seats up to two inches wider.
Meanwhile, in an attempt to give its drivers more room when they are getting in and out of its cars, Porsche has fitted electrically powered steering columns that rise when the car’s engine is turned off.
Additionally, Mercedes is hoping to offer larger drivers extra support when they are getting out of their vehicles by installing stronger above-door grab handles.
Over the past 50-60 years, cars have increased in width by more than a foot and have become almost twice as heavy as they were in the 1950s.
Estimations published in the medical journal The Lancet suggest that by 2030, approximately 50 percent of men and 40 percent of women in Britain will be obese.
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NeuTigers: edge AI in healthcare
What is edge AI?
Edge AI is essentially a combination of edge computing and artificial intelligence. Algorithms are processed locally - directly on a mobile device or server - rather than in the cloud. This reduces cost, computing power and energy requirements. There are also claims that edge AI is so fast it is possible to reach near real-time analytics.
Edge AI devices include smart speakers, smart phones, laptops, robots, self-driven cars, drones, and surveillance cameras that use video analytics.
Who is NeuTigers?
NeuTigers is a spin-off company from Princeton University, formed in 2018 to apply edge AI and machine learning to solve challenges in healthcare, energy, productivity, and security.
With offices in Princeton, NJ, the company is based at one of the top AI accelerator programs of FutureLabs in New York, and has also established a subsidiary in Nice, France.
How is NeuTigers applying edge AI to healthcare?
The NeuTigers AI Technology Stack uses deep neural networks that mimic how the human brain perceives and interprets the world. The company has developed the StarDeepTM Smart Health Platform for health monitoring and biomedical imaging, to improve the accuracy and speed of diagnosing diseases.
NeuTigers say the platform has the potential to monitor and screen for thousands of conditions, when used in combination with medical devices and smart sensors already deployed in healthcare settings.
Are there any real world examples?
In January NeuTigers launched CovidDeep, a tool that predicts COVID-19 with more than 90% accuracy, using physiological data from a wristband along with blood pressure and blood oxygen readings. It then analyses the data and gives a prediction within two minutes.
This week NeuTigers announced a new study to detect the early signs of complications with sickle cell anaemia. Conducted at a hospital in Paris, the research will begin by looking at changes to skin response, heart beat, sleep and temperature to predict an acute episode of sickle cell anaemia, and how this impacts on the patients’ disease conditions and quality of life.
The second phase of the project is to expand with prospective studies across different sites in EU, Africa and the US to explore the models' accuracy and clinical effectiveness.
Adel Laoui, CEO and founder of NeuTigers, says: “The best way to deal with a crisis is to avoid it happening in the first place. We are now entering a new era where medical early warning systems have become a reality.
“We are excited at the possibility of deploying a technology that can save lives of patients dealing with sickle cell anaemia. The potential of the StarDeep platform to dramatically improve patient outcomes while slashing some of the highest costs of healthcare makes it one of the most exciting developments in preventative personal medicine.”