Nobody has ever said: “I could really do with some time in the hospital.” Hospitals are scary and lonely, impersonal and full of strange smells and sounds. And patients are there because they are ill, so the external factors are magnified by them feeling unwell, maybe scared. Now multiply all that by a small child and hospitalisation becomes an ordeal.
But the worst is being taken for examination or treatment. The passages are long and hostile, the nurses’ footsteps echo and the endless trip stretches the anticipated dread to breaking point. A sweetie or small soft toy afterwards doesn’t quite do it. But what if that trip became fun? Maybe you could drive yourself in a little car? That talked to you and sang and blew bubbles?
There is one such little car in one hospital in the world right now. The Barcelona Children’s Hospital has a Hyundai Little Big e-Motion specifically to ease the dread of little kiddies going for treatment. This is a cute little EV that the child can drive to the treatment room. But it is much more than that.
The Little Big e-Motion is jam-packed with a technology called Emotion Adaptive Vehicle Control (EAVC). EAVC seeks to provide the perfect environment for passengers to enjoy a safe and pleasant journey. It measures your emotional state through facial expressions, heart rate and rate of breathing. It then adjusts sensory elements in the car to match and improve your emotional state. This is a mouthful, so let’s go directly to the Little Big e-Motion to put it in practice.
The EAVC in the little car has a camera that measures the child’s facial expression, while sensors in the seat belt measure hearth and breathing rate. These measurements are used to gauge the child’s emotional state. Lights inside and outside the car inform the medical staff about their emotional state. As the child relaxes and experiences joy, the colour of the light changes to reflect this.
The Little Big e-Motion interacts with the child to distract and bring joy. It plays music along with animations on the screen in front of the child. The special seat belt also gives the child breathing exercises which eases anxiety. The fragrance of sweet candy is released to lighten the mood, and as the child’s mood improves, the car starts blowing bubbles.
But why does this exist? EAVC is being developed as a joint research project by Hyundai Motor Group R&D and MIT Media Labs to create technology to make future mobility and self-driving cars safer and more pleasant to drive in.
If the Little Big e-Motion looks familiar, it is because it was based on the 45 EV concept shown in Frankfurt in 2019. It symbolised 45 years of Hyundai’s heritage and its journey to future mobility. The 45 EV pays homage to the 1974 Pony, the car jumped Hyundai’s design to the leading edge.