Seat technology can monitor a driver's heart rate and use the data for safety systems or to instruct the driver.

Ford is developing a new car seat that features a heart-rate monitor that can measure a pulse unobtrusively through the driver's clothing from sensors on the seat back.

The project is a joint development between Ford's European Research and Innovation Centre in Aachen, Germany and Achen University's Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule (RWTH).

The seat uses six embedded sensors to detect electrical impulses generated by a heartbeat. The data can be used to detect, for example, if a driver is experiencing cardiovascular problems or a having heart attack.

"As always in medicine, the earlier a condition is detected the easier it is to treat and this technology even has the potential to be instrumental in diagnosing conditions drivers were previously unaware they had," said Dr. Achim Lindner, medical officer for the Ford European Research and Innovation Centre.

Ford believes the technology will be useful in a future with a greater number of older drivers on the road.