The lines between transportation industries are starting to blur as aircraft OEMs and carriers begin to team up more frequently with automotive specialists to innovate seating. Within the last few months, the industry has seen pairings between Boeing and the automotive seating specialist Adient for Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska Airlines with BMW, and a Formula One inspired concept seat for commercial airlines — and this list continues to grow. With this in mind, we took a look at how the automotive and aircraft industry are working together on seating in 2019.
Ahead of the summit, we took a look at the top three areas of focus for automotive seating in 2019. These areas include health and wellness monitoring, safety, and seating comfort scaling.
The automotive seating market is shifting towards a more human centered design – with a focus on health and wellness. Seating is becoming more responsive to customer comfort, which means safety will consequently increase as drivers become monitored. This shift has created several new opportunities as industry players have the ability to share health information with healthcare providers and can even introduce notifications for the driver (i.e. when a driver becomes distracted, sleepy, etc). In the near future, seats will be able to analyze physiological data and apply countermeasures to mitigate motion sickness, stress, discomfort, drowsiness, and readiness to operate controls.
As always, safety is also prime area of focus for the automotive seating market. With the ongoing race to deploy autonomous vehicles, industry players within seating are beginning to collaborate more with supply chain partners to develop appropriate safety standards and adaptive seating safety features for future vehicles. There has also been a shift towards utilizing extensive virtual testing, head-knock airbags that deploy out of a center seat bolster, and second-row seat belts that have an airbag built into the fabric of the belt.
The third and final area of focus for the automotive seating market in 2019 is bringing luxury comfort to mid-size and compact vehicles. If done right, scaling seating comfort would result in a massive payoff for an individual brand. Scaling would not only reduce costs; it would also extend a brand's customer base to a much wider audience.
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If you enjoy reading this, be sure to join us at the Summit! We will focus in on the latest issues facing the industry as well as the new technologies and methodologies creating opportunities across the three pillars of seating and interiors: comfort, safety and innovation.
The sheer growth of car sharing services is prompting the seating industry to offer materials with stainless and odorless properties. For Mobility as a Service (MaaS) users, a clean interior is essential, so composites like titanium dioxide and star-shapely branched polymers can offer a comfortable seating experience. Touch-able surfaces are also in demand to allow occupants to control some car systems from the seat.
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Autonomous vehicles (AVs), ride hailing/sharing apps (i.e. Lyft and uber), shared vehicle ownership, electric vehicles, and other emerging transportation-related innovations are expected to not only transform the way we drive but how we live as well. But how will these changes affect searing?
Though automotive seating has traditionally been thought of as merely a safety apparatus by both manufacturers and consumers, as the role of the “driver” shifts from that of an ‘active driver’ to that of a ‘supervisor,’ seats are evolving into multi-talented interior components capable of providing safety, comfort and entertainment. Although we're still years away from autonomous cars becoming the norm, OEMs have already started reimagining car interiors now that drivers have been taken out of the equation. Furthermore, factors such as the evolving nature of mobility towards new ownership models, ride-sharing services, etc. as well as increased focus on global markets such as China where backseats are very much the priority, are also pushing manufacturers to rethink the traditional passenger experience. With that in mind, below are the top 5 ways industry leaders forecast autonomous and mobility could impact seating.
A conversation with David E. Cole, Chairman, Emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research, on:
Auto seating design is undergoing an evolution, one which requires a new approach. Safety, the ergonomic relationship with vehicle systems and comfort have always been the key design drivers in auto seating. They still are critical factors, but with the development of autonomous vehicles and other mobility technologies, what defines those factors is changing, with more being possible and being asked for in terms of functionality. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and Tier 1 designers are looking toward a future that is rapidly approaching, one that will require the broader perspective of systems thinking for seating design.
This in-depth articles explores how OEMs, disrupters and other seating visionaries are applying systems thinking to:
Ongoing developments in autonomous vehicle technologies continue to shape the future of the automotive seating industry. That being said, check out Auto IQ's Automotive Seating Innovation Report, which deep dives into: