Automotive

Prototype vehicle seat is adjusted using hand gestures

Prototype vehicle seat is adju...
The seat incorporates piezoelectric and proximity-reading sensors
The seat incorporates piezoelectric and proximity-reading sensors
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The seat incorporates piezoelectric and proximity-reading sensors
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The seat incorporates piezoelectric and proximity-reading sensors

Tired of trying to remember what knobs move your car seat in which direction? Well, in the not-too-distant future, you may not have to. That's because scientists from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research and Isringhausen GmbH have developed a seat that's moved using simple intuitive gestures.

The interface is located in a panel along one side of the prototype seat.

Drivers start by pressing down on a specific spot of that panel's synthetic covering, beneath which is located a piezoelectric sensor. This powers the system up, and prevents it from accidentally reading random hand gestures as commands. Additionally, pressing that spot repeatedly lets users access previously-stored seat settings, for situations in which more than one driver is using the same vehicle.

Once the system is turned on, proximity sensors then detect changes in the surrounding electrical fields, as caused by movements of the driver's hand. By simply brushing their fingers across the seat covering in different directions, users can indicate that they wish to move the seat forward or backward, up or down, or they can adjust the inclination of the thigh support or backrest. Motors in the seat then move it accordingly.

It's not unlike using a touchscreen, and the interface shuts itself off once the driver moves their hand away. An LED on the dash lets them know that their commands have been received and executed.

Fraunhofer and Isringhausen plan on commercializing the technology for use in mid- and high-end cars, and will officially unveil it at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt next month.

Source: Fraunhofer

2 comments
Captain Danger
Yeah, That sounds way easier than using a button with tactile feedback. How about just putting the switches in a door or console. Much easier to see and operate. With motors and controls now on LIN or CAN the wiring cost increase would be marginal.
sk8dad
"Tired of trying to remember what knobs move your car seat in which direction" One should be more concerned with potential early onset dementia. Seriously does anyone forget which buttons, knobs, paddles and levers, that operate the door locks, windows, wipers, turn-signals and the myriad of modern drive train options? How about the layers deep touch screen controls or finicky voice recognition? Seat adjustment switch $20, seat adjustment gesture sensor and controller $400. There are more appropriate avenues for Rube Goldberg expressions than fixing the perfectly functional seat switches. Coming up next...gesture controlled door knobs...