Many factors determine ride comfort, but car seats affect ride quality the most. Designers have to consider ergonomics, so they change the design and materials all the time. What does the future hold for car seats? Hong Soon bae, Head of Hyundai Transys Dongtan Seat R&D Center talks about future car seats.
Q. How are car seats going to evolve?
Car seats have evolved based on user preferences. In the past, people wanted their car seats to be as comfortable as possible. So, after various surveys, automakers focused on choosing the right materials for comfortable seats. Being comfortable is still one of the most important factors, but consumers now require more than that. For instance, firm seats are more popular than fluffy ones for high-performance cars. Seating will have to satisfy multiple needs: comfortable seating, safety, availability of latest technological features, and whatever else the market may demand.
Q. How is Hyundai Transys Dongtan Seat R&D Center preparing for the future industry?
So far, our focus was on developing brand-new technologies for vehicle comfortableness or quality control. But things have changed. Now it is all about customer-centric. So, after years of research and development, Hyundai Transys makes not only comfortable, safe seats but also take into account the overall interior of the car. Even in an age of autonomous driving, seats will continue being something that our bodies directly interact with, and seats will likely be an important determining factor for the car’s interior. We are working on developing car seats to satisfy the customers’ needs in the name of ‘Connected, Autonomous, Shared, Electric (C.A.S.E)’.
Q. How will the car seats work in connected cars?
The concept of connected cars is central to autonomously-driven cars, and this will require a system to constantly adapt to the outside environment. The passengers could adjust the seating depending on changing road condition, or the safety system attached to the car seats can be automatically activated when it detects traffic dangers. We already developed air cell seat cushion (using a layer of air that can adjust the thickness of the seat) and the seat that automatically controls temperature or humidity. Designing new algorithms will be the next project of Dongtan Seat R&D Center.
Q. How will seats for autonomous vehicles change in the future?
Since autonomous cars won’t need a driver any longer, the steering wheel will be gone and the front and back seats will adjust freely to maximize space usage. These changes will create room for things that are not reasonable currently, such as having a meeting face-to-face with fellow passengers. The passenger would also be able to recline the seat all the way back and sleep. Multiple usages and mechanisms will be needed for future car seats.
Q. How will the car seats be like in the world of car-sharing?
Since car-sharing is literally for multiple users, the durability of the seats is the most important. Unlike renting cars, privacy will also be crucial for car-sharing because different people could be in the same car at the same time. Independent listening zones or noise-canceling system using speakers attached to each headrest, or multizone climate control will enhance privacy.
Q. What will change in the car seats of eco-friendly vehicles?
Eco-friendliness is also a very important factor. Reducing emission is crucial, of course, but the car also has to use eco-friendly materials. The padding or the glue used inside the seats is made of natural substances. Hyundai Transys Dongtan Seat R&D Center is working on using an eco-friendly material for car seat outer layer.
Q. What is Hyundai Transys working on for future car seats?
So far, car seats were anchored to the floor of a car. But everything will change under the name of C.A.S.E. and be customer centric. Car seats will be the key to managing the cabin space of future cars. There should be swivel seats for passenger comfort and the control system of the car will be attached to the seats. From the perspective of future mobility, car seats will evolve under the name of ‘total interior’
Photograph. Ahn Jaehyun