Driving by the Seat of Your Pants — FEA, Sensors Change Seat Shape as You Drive
Shawn Wasserman posted on July 29, 2015 |

How Simulation Automates Seat Comfort

Engineers from Lear Corporation have created an automotive seat that will enhance optimal comfort when sitting in your vehicle.

Lear’s ProActive Posture Seating System will tap into the MySeat by Lear app and auto adjust bladders in the seat based on sensor data, personal settings and FEA results. The basic logic behind the MySeat by Lear app is based on FEA simulations provided by ESI Group’s Virtual Seat Solution.

“Virtual Seat Solution was used to determine the exact position of an occupant when he settles into the seat,” said Missy Pereny, senior comfort engineer at Lear. “This information allowed us to place the multi-contour bladder positions appropriately in the seat structure.” 

Simulating and Controlling the Factors That Affect Seat Comfort

“At the basic level, the dimensions of the seat must support the occupant anthropometry (size and shape) without providing too much space,” said Caroline Borot, marketing and business development manager at ESI Group. “This aids the person in obtaining a posture that feels best from the initial sitting position.” 

Various demographic, anthropometric and subjective feedback data was used to create the MySeat by Lear algorithm named TheraMetric— the algorithm which uses the FEA and input data to determine the optimal seat position for each user.

Control Your Bladder with FEA

“We collected multiple data types to create our TheraMetric algorithm,” said Pereny. “Subjective feedback, anthropometry, demographic, ESI’s FEA analysis, body pressure distribution, seat position data and data mining techniques of datasets from multiple clinics were used. This algorithm will then control the bladder system within the seat. The TheraMetric algorithm positions the occupant in an ideal driving position, while enabling proper posture and improved wellness over time.”

Borot explained that, after the initial sitting, other elements would contribute to the comfort of the driver and passenger. “Softness, contours, location of seams and attachments, and pressure distribution are some factors which affect comfort,” she added.

When sitting for long periods of time, Borot describes that vibration transmission and heat transfer play a significant role in the comfort of the occupant. To accommodate that, Pereny said, “The shape and feel of the seat should remain comfortable not only on short rides, but for longer rides, too. The app monitors the occupant’s posture over time to enhance long term comfort.”

This motorization of the driver is performed by sensors and real time FEA analysis with ESI’s technology.

Improved Driver Comfort Through Simulation

The user will need to enter their personal information into the MySeat by Lear app. This personal data, sensor data and the FEA simulation data from ESI’s Virtual Seat Solution will then be processed by the TheraMetric algorithm to optimize the seating position of the driver. Bladders inflate and deflate to coax the occupant into the optimal seat position.

“A secondary setting will then take the driver into a ‘wellness’ position that promotes focused support to the thoracic region of the spine and secondary support to the upper back, lumbar and sacral regions of the spine,” said Pereny.

The driver is able to fine-tune adjustments to the seat based on his personal preferences. For instance, the driver can choose from multiple settings to optimize the seat for the type and length of the trip: luxury, sport or long duration.

The ProActive Posture Seating system will continue to monitor the driver’s posture. For example, when using the long duration setting, the system will micro-adjust the seat at regular intervals to change posture to reduce muscular fatigue and soreness.

“When the ProActive Posture Seating system determines that the posture is altered, it visually alerts the driver through the app and activate the bladder system to counter the change of posture,” explained Pereny.

As many new laws are starting to ban the interaction between drivers and visual screen interfaces, like cell phones, devices like the MySeat by Lear app will need to reassess how the system notifies drivers without taking their attention away from the road. After all, by improving comfort the app is designed to improve safety not detriment it.

How the MySeat by Lear App and ProActive Posture Seating System Works

Like any other car seat, the engineers at Lear ensured that, though the seat is developed with posture in mind, it will still be compliant with all safety regulations.

Pereny said, “Our main focus in developing a seat for comfort is how well it fits the occupant. We also try to consider the styling, structure and how well the seat accommodates and supports the occupant’s posture.”

The MySeat by Lear app and ProActive Posture Seating System communicate through a Wi-Fi connection. However, Lear engineers explained that the connection could be customized to fit the communication systems of the vehicle.

In fact, users will be able to use the app in an aftermarket format through their smartphone. However, for the seat to adjust automatically, it will still need the ProActive Posture Seating System installed.

The MySeat by Lear app demonstrates that ESI’s Virtual Seat Simulation software can do more than just help design a seat. Lear successfully uses the software to improve customer satisfaction during the use phase of the product’s life cycle. “The software was used to model the inflation of the bladders and to determine how the bladders could change the posture of the seated occupant,” said Pereny.

Ultimately, it appears that the collaboration between ESI and Lear has been a great success. As Pereny said, “Thanks to the Virtual Seat Solution we have been able to model the seat behavior and how it impacts the occupant’s position. We’ve partnered with the health and wellness community to develop the ProActive Posture Seating system to ensure we’re providing proper seated posture. In the process, we’ve gained several endorsements from the health and wellness community, including the American Chiropractic Association, the International Chiropractors Association, the World Federation of Chiropractic and the Loomis Institute.”

For more on ESI’s seat simulation technology, follow this link.

For more information on Lear’s MySeat by Lear app, watch the video below:

ESI Group has sponsored this post. They have no editorial input to this post - all opinions are mine. Shawn Wassrman.

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