In recent decades, the automotive industry has made several technology-driven innovations to factors like engine capacity, fuel efficiency, aerodynamic design and so on. However, it’s not only the engine and body that have received attention. New car seat technologies are also resulting in dramatic changes to the driving experience.

New car seat features

The new focus in automotive furniture is on multi-purpose component features. Some examples of these features are

  • built-in climate control functions
  • memory of the driver’s previous seat adjustments, which can be restored at the touch of a button
  • ergonomic adjustment
  • massage
  • a range of safety functions.

Adjusting the seat

Although position adjustment is a relatively basic function – both drivers and passengers have long been able to slide their seats forward and backward, and tilt the backrest– there is much room for improvement and progress. Some modern systems already allow for the adjustment of up to 10 different regions of the seat, including the headrest, the length of the thigh rests, the height of the shoulder pads and the width of the lumbar support.

New technology is emerging that automatically adjusts a car seat via pneumatic systems according to the velocity and trajectory of the car. When a car is speeding around a tight corner, for example, specially designed air cushions within the seat will alter its contours, providing lateral hold in response to the bend of the road.

Not all seating innovation is so “high-tech” – affordability is also important. An example of an affordable but clever design can be seen in the “Orb Chair”, which recently won the 2013 Asian “Sit Down, Move” Car Seat Design Competition. Its futuristic design belies its elegant simplicity.

The elastic mesh wrapped around the plastic profile of the seat allows for universal adaption to any driver’s shape and posture, and can be easily removed for cleaning and repair. The simple locking mechanism that keeps the mesh in place also enables the driver or passenger to adjust the position of the backrest, moving it back or forward, and up or down.  The same mechanism allows the seat base to be adjusted; it can slide forward or back to accommodate legs of any length.

Integrating seating with your smartphone or tablet

Another innovation we’ll be seeing soon is the integration of smartphone and tablet technology in car seating. This will enable the driver to determine the settings of the car via a phone or tablet before even entering the vehicle, personalizing not only seat adjustment but temperature, music, lighting and so on.

Temperature control

Temperature adjustment in car seating isn’t an entirely new concept but it’s being taken to new heights. Instead of a car seat just heating up on a cold day, it’s possible to adjust the temperature of various regions of the seat, including its base and  backrest, head rest and shoulder support. Small ventilation holes in the base and back of the seat make is possible to draw in either cooled or warmed air and to distribute it evenly around the designated areas. Especially if you drive a convertible, this could make driving in both summer and winter a lot more comfortable than in the past.