"This material feels smoother
to me. The feeling is much more pleasant than the first one" states Sara,
who is participating in a blind test conducted by Raul Funes, an engineer in
the SEAT Haptics department (interaction involving touch). There is a
group of professionals
at SEAT who are
devoted to studying
and perfecting the sensations felt by users when they touch
the interior elements of a car.
The work carried out by Raul and his team involves the "material world" and
sense perceptions. Although it
may seem somewhat subjective and difficult to assess, in fact everything is
perfectly gauged: "We put in more than three years of work before a car
goes on sale", explains Raul. In order to increase the objectivity of
sensorial opinions, we carry out more than 150 blind tests on car parts every
year:"We blindfold the person performing the test so they can fully concentrate
on tactile inputs. This is an example of how we analyse and scale the glide
factor and consistency of certain materials''.
And what is the purpose of all
this testing? To offer a feeling of authentic quality through the use of touch.
"Whichever button people touch, they all have to offer the same feeling of
consistency. The results of our work can be felt in the small details and
overall impression given by the car".
Haptics is in constant
evolution and also adapts to the technologies of the future. Nowadays, the trend
is for individual buttons to disappear now
that touchscreens are
gaining in popularity. In this sense, Raul's department is focussing on
defining the amount of pressure that customers have to apply to the screen or
on making sure that the layout of all elements is consistent with natural human movement. Likewise,
another area they work
on with haptics is in
defining the spaces
to house objects
commonly used by
drivers, such as a phone, umbrella
or laptop. The objective is to design a logical and useful space for storing
items, bring spatial order to the interior of the car and ensure functionality.
Achieving the perfect surface
feel that a car should provide to its customers is truly a "one-of a-kind
job", says Raul. So much so, that every time he explains what he does, he
gets asked "do people really scrutinise every little detail on a
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