Saturday, October 31, 2009

Car seats as a symptom for technology evolution

Modern car seats are engineering masterpieces. The difference between what you get in a modern BMW or Audi to what you had in a Jaguar or BMW in the 50ies or 60ies couldn't be more striking. In the old days car builders did the minimum to allow the drivers seat somewhat comfortable. In sportscars they did even less, often the driver sat basically on the floor of the car or in very rudimentary bucket seats. Since then a lot has happened. Modern seats support the driver by moving electrically, storing seating positions (of more than one driver), can be heated and cooled, and some even do offer a massage to the driver. But there's more. Modern seats also have airbags built inside and they track whether actually somebody is sitting on them. And in some cases seats vibrate to wake up the driver or make him aware that he is leaving the road.
No wonder that modern seats have become much more heavy, probably many hundreds of percentages heavier than seats in the old times. A modern seat can easily weight 30, 40 or 50 kg, or even more, compared to 5 or 15 kg in the past.
But would we want to go back? Probably not, as today we sit much longer in these cars and our back is glad for optimal support. Maybe there's a way to get a bit more from both worlds, some of the lightweight racing seats available in super cars are good examples.

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