Car seat that can read your ges­tures

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

RE­SEARCHERS at the Fraun­hofer In­sti­tute for Sil­i­cate Re­search ISC, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Is­ring­hausen GmbH & Co. KG, have en­gi­neered a driver’s seat that can be cal­i­brated in­tu­itively through ges­tures.

The re­search was driven by the num­ber of driv­ers who de­velop back pain from spend­ing on av­er­age nine hours a day be­hind a steer­ing wheel. Back pain can be al­le­vi­ated by sim­ply ad­just­ing the seat to fit the per­son at the wheel.

Johannes Ehrlich of the Cen­tre for Smart Ma­te­ri­als (Cesma) at Fraun­hofer ISC said most truck seats can be ad­justed widely, but most driv­ers don’t have time to fid­dle with their seats dur­ing a day’s jour­ney.

To make it easy to ad­just the seat, Ehrlich said Cesma used a sen­sor-based ges­ture con­trol sys­tem that senses move­ment or reg­is­ters a quick fin­ger press to move the seat for­wards and back­wards, as well as up and down.

“In ad­di­tion, he or she can also cus­tom-set the in­cline of the thigh sup­port and back rest in the same man­ner,” said Ehrlich.

The piezosen­sors are built into the side of the seat and are ac­ti­vated with brief pres­sure on a cer­tain point on the side cover. “This way we pre­vent the mo­tion con­trol from be­ing trig­gered ac­ci­den­tally,” said Ehrlich.

In ad­di­tion, seat po­si­tions can be stored through this point by press­ing sev­eral times, which is a use­ful op­tion if mul­ti­ple driv­ers are us­ing the same truck. Prox­im­ity sen­sors that are like­wise built into the side cover are used to de­tect ges­tures.

They can track the small­est changes in elec­tri­cal fields in the en­vi­ron­ment, such as when they are trig­gered through hand mo­tions. Another soft­ware pro­gram en­gi­neered at ISC reads these sen­sors and de­ter­mines the hand’s di­rec­tion of mo­tion from this.

The ar­range­ment of the sen­sors in the side panel is there­fore of decisive im­por­tance. “We have at­tached elec­trodes to the rel­a­tively lim­ited space, so that the nec­es­sary con­trol ges­tures are easy and er­gonom­i­cally favourable,” said Ehrlich.

An in­tel­li­gent al­go­rithm in the soft­ware guar­an­tees that mul­ti­ple elec­trodes can be eval­u­ated si­mul­ta­ne­ously, thereby re­duc­ing in­cor­rect op­er­a­tion. Once the op­er­a­tor has per­formed the set­tings, the ges­ture con­trol au­to­mat­i­cally shuts off as soon as the hand is moved away from the sen­sor area. The driver then re­ceives con­fir­ma­tion that the ges­tures were stored suc­cess­fully through an LED in­stru­ment.

Is­ring­hausen GmbH, to­gether with the ISC sci­en­tists, has al­ready re­alised a fully func­tional pro­to­type of the sen­sor seat. It will be un­veiled at the IAA in Frank­furt this year. — WR.

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