ACTIVE WELLNESS™: FAURECIA WAKES UP AUTO INDUSTRY TO SEAT THAT DETECTS AND RELIEVES DROWSINESS, STRESS
City driving often can be a stressful experience, aggravating motorists and possibly provoking them to drive recklessly. Long cross-country trips, on the other hand, can be tiring, potentially causing drivers to become drowsy. Both situations can affect driving behavior, and until now the auto industry has offered no in-vehicle systems to directly help the driver return to a healthy state of mind.
To address these issues, Faurecia developed the Active Wellness™ seating system, a seat that keeps drivers relaxed, alert and feeling better when they reach their destination then when they began.
Using advanced sensors within the seat, Active Wellness™ detects the driver’s heart rate and breathing patterns and then executes a specific massage pattern along with seat ventilation to restore the driver to a more fit condition. It is the first closed-loop seating system that both detects the mental and physical status of a driver or passenger and also takes countermeasures to return the occupant to a healthy driving status.
Active Wellness™ incorporates the first biometric sensing system that does not affect the comfort of the seat or its visual design. Moreover, it is the first system that manages noise and vibrations from the road while furnishing accurate feedback to mechanical, thermal, pneumatic and computer systems so that they re-establish a healthy mental and physical state in drivers and other occupants.
RESEARCH WITH ‘ASTRONOMICAL’ RESULTS
Over the past five years, Faurecia has engaged in research with academic organizations to perfect the Active Wellness™ seating system. This effort resulted in a focus on the realtime comfort of each individual, rather than parameters of “average” occupants. Faurecia developed unique tools to measure comfort in real time by working with The Ohio State University Spine Research Institute. These devices allowed for measuring comfort in real time and for transforming discomfort into a relaxing seating situation.
Faurecia further worked with the NASA team that had invented sensors for space suit and aerospace applications. NASA furnished Faurecia with a technical review of all the types of sensors research in progress that might enable acquisition of vital signs with sensors that do not contact the skin. That review brought Faurecia together with U.S.-based Hoana Medical, a company that had developed non-contact sensors and sophisticated signal processing to monitor the vital signs of hospital patients.
With exclusive access to this technology as applied to automobiles, Faurecia integrated the sensors with the seat in a proprietary fashion, using unique algorithms and signal processing for extracting data while a vehicle is moving, regardless of road-induced vibrations.
A NEW ERA IN DESIGN FLEXIBILITY
Seat coverings have been reinvented by Faurecia’s proprietary Cover Carving Technology (CCT), which capitalizes on a complete-seat approach to the cover and seat architecture.
This process, for which Faurecia has filed more than 15 patents, has produced the industry’s first seat without foam-to-cover attachment. CCT is based on the direct compression of polyurethane on fabric, vinyl or leather. As a result, it produces shapes (concavities, marking lines, embossing, etc.) in a very repeatable and durable manner.
It is developed into two product applications: Sculpted Light Back Panels for the back of front seats and Sculpted Covers to replace traditional covers.
• The Sculpted Cover provides exceptional design freedom and quality, as well as breakthrough durability. Covers are
consistent in quality, with no wrinkles, and provide a soft feel that is pleasing to the touch. Development time for covers is slashed from one year down to just six months. Production time is cut as well: Trimming a sculpted cover requires 32 seconds, compared to 40 seconds for traditional covers, as its 3D shape doesn’t require several attachment points between the cover and foam pad.
• The Sculpted Light Back Panel offers weight savings of up to 50 percent per car set, compared with plastic back panels. Tooling costs are reduced 80 percent vs. rigid back panels, and the process employs a low-pressure tool that requires no heating. For rear-seat passengers, the panel’s concave shape increases knee room by up to 30 mm (1.2 inches)