The Influence of a Massage Car Seat on Comfort Experience and EMG 2008-01-0889
A possibility to achieve a competitive advantage in the automotive industry is the development of car seats for people who love comfort (Looze et al., 2003). Today, there are many possibilities of relieving the strain for drivers and achieving well being driving long distances. To achieve more seat comfort, special attention is given to for instance the seat form, noise, odour, user friendliness and smooth “appealing” surfaces (Bronkhorst et al., 2005). An additional idea is the introduction of massage seats to increase the level of well being or comfort experience in the car. However, the question is whether it has any objective and subjective positive effects on drivers and passengers.
There are some indications that a massage seat could have positive effects. Helander (2003) describes that blood circulation in sitting is very important for well being and feeling comfortable. In general there is belief that movement is important to reduce discomfort (Dieen et al., 2003). Fujimaki et al. (2005) show that there is a relationship between discomfort in time and pressure distribution. They also describe a relationship with body movement and EMG in short-term sitting.
In a vehicle, particularly in a car, it is difficult to move during the journey, as the person has to concentrate on traffic conditions and steering. This restricts the design of seats stimulating movement. Besides a car seat has to support the body due to acceleration, slowing, and in curves when driving. The driver/passenger is in someway fixed and therefore spends a certain time in an unchanged position.
These considerations indicate that it could be meaningful to integrate a massage activity system (MAS) into a car seat. In this paper we have the hypothesis that the MAS results in small variations in posture and thereby increases the comfort of the car occupants.