European version of Johnson Controls' "Leap Automotive Seating" concept revolutionizes car seat comfort and ergonomics

A seat that adapts to every spine

Burscheid (ots) - The "Leap Automotive Seating" concept from Johnson Controls, one of the world's leading suppliers of automotive interior systems, transfers the ergonomic benefits of modern office chairs to the world of automotive seating.

At the core of this innovation are active seat elements that automatically adapt themselves to individual body size, posture, and even variations in spinal shape, in order to give occupants a whole new experience in seating comfort. An American version of the seat was presented earlier this year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and now Johnson Controls will be presenting a European version at the upcoming International Motor Show in Frankfurt. This new version features variable directional control along with a slimmer, more streamlined design.

Over 40 patents are hidden within the seat structure of the new "Leap Automotive Seating" concept. In cooperation with office equipment manufacturer Steelcase, Johnson Controls has transferred the essential basic functions of this modern office chair to automotive seating. The alliance between Steelcase and Johnson Controls was a natural outgrowth of both partners' interest in creating ergonomically correct seating, a subject that's just as compelling in the office as it is in the car.

Modeled on the human spine

Starting with the very structure of the seat back, which uses a plastic plate as carrier, the seat design was modeled on the human spine. Unlike conventional seats, which provide comfort by means of cushioning, the seat back, with its "Live Back" technology, conforms to the occupant's back at all times, giving the feeling of sitting not on the seat, but rather in it. With the added advantage that the spine receives optimal support.

The pleasant effect of the "Live Back" technology is supple-mented by the "Natural Glide" function, which enables the seat back and cushion to move as one unit. When the driver reclines, his relationship to the cockpit is maintained, along with his reach zone and field of vision.

The developers enhanced comfort even further by lowering the seat back's pivot point towards the hips. This helps provide more consistent contact between the torso and seat back in any sitting position.

Sights set on European needs

For the European version of the "Leap Automotive Seating", Johnson Controls developed directional control cushions that continually adapt to the flexibility of the seat back. These directional controls are filled with air compartments and can be electrically adjusted. The design of the European seat was modified as well. The new seat is slimmer, more streamlined and comes with combination woven/velour upholstery.

In addition to its special structural features, "Leap Automotive Seating", which will be offered as a complete seat, provides consumers with all of the functions and features they expect from a luxury seat in the Upper Medium and Executive segments: seat cushion inclination, seat height and longitudinal adjustment as well as seat back inclination can be varied electrically, as can the height of the head restraint.

Seating comfort redefined

The development of the "Leap Automotive Seating" concept is the result of four years of intensive research into human ergonomics. After studying a large number of test subjects, engineers and scientists consolidated their findings into four key discoveries. The spine does not move as a single unit. Instead, the upper and lower spine areas require different types and amounts of support, because each human spine is unique and seating positions change dynamically.

Based on this knowledge, the "Leap Automotive Seating" concept was precisely tailored to fit the human body. Virtual comfort simulations as well as numerous consumer studies confirm the redefinition of seating comfort that resulted.

Statements collected in the course of these studies range from "fits like a glove" to "the seat cradles me". Initial driving comfort evaluations from automakers also led to an overwhelmingly positive response and a high level of interest in the technology.

The seating concept could be used in series production beginning as early as 2007.

Steelcase International

Michael Merk

Parc d'Activit├ęs de la Mossig

Rue de Rome

67521 Marlenheim Cedex


Tel.: +33 388 646-352

Fax: +33 388 646-340

E-Mail: mmerk@steelcase-europe.com