Pic Caption: Continental provides the controls for diverse electric
adjustments (green) as well as for seat climatisation (red), and realises
massage (blue), seat-contour (blue), memory, and numerous safety functions.
The seat is where drivers and
passengers have most of their contact with a vehicle, which is why it plays
such a decisive role in how a car is perceived by the user. Thanks to
sophisticated electronic and pneumatic systems, modern-day car seats offer a range
of comfort and safety functions. Many of these functions are increasingly
finding their way from premium-class vehicles down to more budget vehicle
classes. In the future, seats will communicate with drivers as part of a
holistic human–machine interface in order to supply key information. At the
International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt am Main, the international
automotive supplier Continental will demonstrate just how advanced modern
seating technology has become.
driving safer and more comfortable, and car seats are already making a
considerable contribution here. With our electronic controllers and pneumatics,
we are making driving comfortable, relaxed, and safe," says Andreas Wolf,
Head of the Continental Body & Security business unit. The company supplies
controllers for electrical seat adjustments that personalise seats for the
occupants. Memory functions save these seating positions so that they can be
retrieved at any time. Seats warming, cooling and ventilation functions also
ensure a pleasant in-vehicle climate. More and more safety functions – such as
the ability to assume safe seating positions whenever there is a risk of an
accident – are also being integrated.
heat encourages well-being
In addition a diverse range of
massage functions help to promote the occupants well-being. Continental utilises
its expertise as a system supplier of pneumatic seats to enable this. Highly
dynamic massages during driving promote not only well-being but also health.
"A massage programme individually tailored to a particular seat occupant's
needs is perfectly possible. Overall, in-car health is set to play an
increasingly important role in the future," explains Wolf, referring to a
related study conducted by the corporate consultants Frost & Sullivan.
Continental has laid the technical foundations for this by developing a system
in which the cells in the massage mat ensure rapid, air movement and so provide
a vitalizing massage. This effect can be enhanced by additional heat supply.
Currently, these kind of
sophisticated, comfort-enhancing functions are exclusive to the premium-vehicle
sector. The desire for comfort, however, is increasingly influencing buyers of
mid-range and compact-class vehicles, too. Thanks to the largely modular design
of its systems and intelligent, detailed solutions, Continental is now in a
position to offer economically optimized solutions for all vehicle classes. An
example: To automatically adjust a seat, its precise position must be known.
The sensors required for this are expensive. Thanks to a sophisticated software
solution, Continental has found a way around this. Wolf: "Personalised
seating comfort is no longer a privilege for premium-class vehicles."
Car seats are
capable of so much more
The experts all agree, that
there is a high potential for innovation in the development of car seats. An
increasingly important aspect, as Andreas Wolf illustrates: "Today, we
save our seat settings either in the vehicle or on the vehicle key, which
restricts the number of potential users for us. In the era of car-sharing and
brand-new mobility concepts, we need new, more personalised solutions such as
those that could be potentially offered via our ever-present companion, the
The seats can also make an important
contribution to automated driving. One of the challenges here is to ensure that
drivers are quickly and safely "refamiliarised" with the task of
driving following an extended period of automated driving. Different
information channels are conceivable, although they are not without risk.
Acoustic signals, for example, are of no use to the hearing-impaired, while
visual signals force drivers to avert their gaze from the road. In-seat
signaling could be the solution here – after all, drivers are always in contact
with the seat. A driver could therefore be alerted to particular situations, by
a vibrating seat. This is an area that offers huge potential for the seat of
the future. As a specialist in surface materials, the Continental subsidiary
Benecke-Kaliko supplies the fabric for the seats.
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