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The e-car: Electronics technology applied to sustainable mobility, Part 8

The future of the smart car may include a smart seat able to sense the physiological conditions of the driver and acting to keep the driver and the occupants safe, assisted by a smart system empowered by electronic sensors and a smart interactive electronic system. This is the basic concept idea of the new Active Wellness Seat that recently has been introduced by the French car seat manufacturer Faurecia (see Figure 1):

“From sitting in traffic jams to speeding along monotonous motorways at night, driving can sometimes be stressful and exhausting. But keeping calm yet alert behind the wheel could be about to get easier with the advent of a car seat that actively monitors a driver's physical and mental status. The 'Active Wellness' seat has built-in biometric sensors to detect if a driver is lacking energy or is under stress, caused by road rage or similar. It then responds by offering a suitable massage and blowing air through its ventilation system” (Source: dailymail.co.uk)

Figure 1

The Active Wellness Seat may be introduced on car starting from 2020 (Source: Daily Mail.com)

The Active Wellness Seat may be introduced on car starting from 2020 (Source: Daily Mail.com)

The Active Wellness Seat is empowered by the integration of biometric electronic sensors into the driver’s seat to sense his physical and mental stress conditions: (see Figure 2)

“The Active Wellness seat senses the occupant's heart rhythms and breathing patterns. The data collected is used to calculate their mental and physical state, with a message appearing on a dedicated screen, offering treatment. If the user accepts the recommendation, they will receive a massage, with a warming or cooling sensation to either relax or energize them. The seat is designed to work alongside fitness devices such as the Fitbit so it can use data collected before the driver got behind the wheel, to understand how energized” (Source: Daily Mail.com)

Figure 2

The Active Wellness Seat introduced by Faurecia (Source: Daily Mail.com)

The Active Wellness Seat introduced by Faurecia (Source: Daily Mail.com)

The effectiveness of such a smart system is deeply correlated to the effectiveness and reliability of the electronic sensors and processors to give a real-time feedback and response to the status of physical conditions of the driver. Moreover, many big electronics companies are developing smart ICs to monitor the vital signs of a person and provide control accordingly (see Figure 3):

“Patient monitoring equipment provides medical staff with the means to continuously observe a patient’s vital signs, such as the heart’s electrical activity with an electrocardiogram (ECG), over an extended period of time. They come in a variety of designs including bed-side monitors for hospital use and portable devices for home use. ST provides a large variety of MEMS sensors including environmental and motion sensors to assess a patient’s posture. To help developers design optimized patient monitoring systems, we also offer low-power and high-performance STM32 microcontrollers, high-precision operational amplifiers and a variety of AC-DC and DC-DC power management and supply ICs as well as wireless connectivity solutions.” (Source: st.com)

Figure 3

The block diagram of a vital sign monitoring system shows many ICs are used to provide this type of control. (Source: st.com)

The block diagram of a vital sign monitoring system shows many ICs are used to provide this type of control. (Source: st.com)

Do you think that this solution will be a great enhancement of the interaction between the driver and the smart car? Will it be effective?

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