Johnson Controls Demos New Technologies To Keep Consumers Safe and Comfortable
10 January 2000MASSAGE SEAT, OCCUPANT SENSING SYSTEM, FLEX VANITY MIRROR
Just Some of the Features
Prototype provides 'wake-up call' to drowsy drivers, alerts industry about interior supplier's capabilities DETROIT -- In the near future, drowsy drivers may be nudged awake automatically by the vibration of their seats. Parents may check a car's instrument-panel display to ensure that their kids are safely buckled up. And all vehicle occupants may get added crash protection, thanks to inflatable seat belts. These features and more are available in a new concept interior from Johnson Controls that debuted here today at North American International Auto Show (NAIAS). The vehicle -- a specially equipped, model-year 2000 Lincoln LS luxury sedan -- is on display (for automakers and journalists) at the company's exhibit in room D2-15 at Detroit's Cobo Center. "With this innovative interior, we show that consumers seeking advanced safety features don't have to compromise on comfort," said Michael Suman, group vice president of advanced sales, marketing, and business development - worldwide for Johnson Controls. The safety-comfort concept vehicle is fully equipped with advanced technologies and systems. On the safety front, it features a driver-drowsiness detection and alert system; occupant-sensing technology; a tire-pressure monitoring system; dual- stage airbags for the driver and front-seat passenger; anti-whiplash seats; and inflatable seat belts for rear-seat occupants. For enhanced comfort, the vehicle features a driver's seat with a massage function, four-way lumbar support and integrated climate control for heating, cooling and ventilation. For the front passenger, an "intelligent," self- adjusting comfort seat is offered. It provides four-way lumbar support and a power headrest. Designers and engineers at Johnson Controls created the safety-comfort concept vehicle to achieve a fully integrated design, with features, functions and styling well-attuned to consumer needs. In developing the concept, every aspect of the interior was considered, including acoustics, seating, electronics, sensor devices, airbags, overhead system, instrument panel, door panels, floor consoles and other interior trim and features. "This concept interior is elegant and compelling," said Suman. "It demonstrates real-world applications of Johnson Controls' products and technologies, and shows our capability for integrating value-added features into a cohesive, production-ready package." Suman says consumers, and especially buyers of luxury cars, have a strong interest in vehicle safety and comfort. Results from the latest J.D. Power and Associates research, the 1999 Automotive Performance and Layout (APEAL) study, indicate that eight of the top 10 features car-buyers want in a new vehicle relate to safety. And consumers polled in studies conducted by Johnson Controls consistently have identified interior comfort and safety as major, new-vehicle purchase considerations, according to Suman. Here's a closer look at some of the key features and technologies offered in Johnson Controls' innovative Safety-Comfort Concept Vehicle: Safety * Anti-Whiplash Seats, have seat backs that absorb energy in a rear-end collision to reduce the risk of whiplash injuries; * The Driver-Drowsiness Alert System uses vehicle-mounted sensors and a microprocessor to learn and monitor driver behavior and deliver a warning when the driver begins to nod off. A variety of alert signals can be used, including lights, sound and/or seat vibration; * Inflataband Seat Belts, available for all three rear-seat positions, inflate to protect passengers in collisions. A tube in the shoulder part of each seat belt inflates, holding occupants snugly in their seats and offering head, neck and torso protection; * The Occupant Sensing System uses a series of sensors in the vehicle to determine occupant locations, positions and seat-belt status. Data is shown on a "reconfigurable" video display in the instrument panel and also is delivered to the vehicle airbag control system; and, * The PSI(TM) -- Pressure Safety Information System continuously monitors air pressure in all four tires -- an important feature if a vehicle is using zero-pressure or run-flat tires -- and shows the information on an overhead- console display. If there is a sudden loss in pressure, or if tire pressure falls below a safe threshold, the driver will receive an audible alert and visible notification of the troubled tire. Comfort * The Climate-Controlled Seat features an integrated heating, cooling and ventilation system. With this unique system, conductive heat reduces "thermal shock" on cold days, while air movement accelerates evaporative heat loss in the summer; * The Self-Adjusting Comfort Seat system relies on computer control to offer automatic contour adjustment in critical comfort zones. Using data from sensors and integrated software, the computer activates a series of strategically located air cells within the seat to optimize comfort, based on the occupant's weight, size, shape, and sitting position; and * The VibroTactile Massage seat feature is achieved through a series of electronic, vibrating motors positioned in key areas of the seat. A controller delivers massage action on demand, or to deliver an anti-drowsiness alert. The seat targets the fatiguing physiological problems experienced during extended travel by refreshing the driver through increased blood flow, which reduces muscle tension and stress. At this year's NAIAS, the safety-comfort concept vehicle is one of five major prototypes being exhibited by Johnson Controls. The other concepts focus on the company's capabilities in electronics integration, flexible vehicle interiors, and acoustics technologies. The Plymouth, Michigan-based automotive business of Johnson Controls -- which employs more than 65,000 people at 275 facilities worldwide -- achieved US$12.1 billion in sales for the 1999 fiscal year. In model-year 2000, it will supply interior products for more than 22 million vehicles. Johnson Controls, Inc. is a global market leader in automotive systems and facility management and control. In the automotive market, it is a major supplier of seating and interior systems, and batteries. For non-residential facilities, Johnson Controls provides building control systems and services, energy management and integrated facility management. Johnson Controls, founded in 1885, has headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Its sales for 1999 totaled US$16.1 billion.