Automotive supplier Faurecia debuted a new seat technology called SmartFit at the Los Angeles Auto show and today I had a chance to talk with them about their latest concept.
In today’s luxury cars, seats can perform a myriad of adjustments to custom fit every aspect to your needs. A problem arises, however, when owners are overwhelmed by choice. For example, it may be very difficult for someone to easily figure out how to operate all 22 adjustments possible in the new Audi A8. Topping customer frustration, the aspect of safety comes into play. Drivers may not be positioning themselves in an optimal way for driving comfort and crash safety.
Faurecia think it has a solution for the problem with its new SmartFit technology. Using a smartphone application, you enter your gender, height, weight, a side profile photograph of you sitting on a stool and an accelerometer reading (to determine arm length). Calculations are made based on a database of ergonomic research to obtain a “SmartFit” and then the phone sends a configuration via Bluetooth to your seat.
I tested the system and found it to be pretty accurate. I may want to make some adjustments, but Faurecia representatives recommended that in a real-life situation I may have learned some bad habits over the years and would be best off test driving the recommended settings for a week or so.
One interesting option was the ability to “buy” optional seating positions like “race” for a fee. I questioned the willingness of drivers to pay up for a seat adjustment, but Faurecia representatives offered up the example of consumers buying applications for their smartphone. Of course, any such decision to charge customers would be at the discretion of the car manufacturer. I also asked about chances of developers being able to sell third party seating configurations, but representatives worried about the legal liability of unsafe seating positions being sold.
SmartFit technology could be on the road in four or five years.