An Apple patent for a hi-tech car seat describes how the technology could solve a problem created by existing hi-tech car seats …

We may or may not ever see an actual Apple Car, but the company is certainly developing some interesting technology which might someday make it into cars made by other manufacturers. One possibility is a solution to a problem created by the number of different motors in some high-end car seats.

As you adjust the seat to suit you, all these different motors push and pull on the fabric, which is especially problematic with leather, as Apple’s patent explains.

Seats such as automobile seats and office desk chairs are typically equipped with contoured seats. Some car seats provide seat positioning adjustments, lumbar support, or leg support extensions that are selectively engaged by a driver or passenger. Such features offer a more comfortable ride, especially on long trips, or, in the case of desk chairs, a more comfortable work environment.

Over time, the trim (e.g., fabric) that covers the seat contours becomes worn, stretched out, or otherwise fatigued. Trim fatigue is especially problematic for car seats with bolsters because car seats are heavily used and passengers rub against the bolsters when entering and exiting the seat. Furthermore, many car seats include leather trim, which has limited elasticity. Manufacturers often address the issues of trim fatigue dividing seats and seat backs into sections that are covered separately, stitched, or quilted, so as to reduce material strain.

To relieve this strain on the fabric, Apple proposes a system of rollers that slacken or tighten the material as required to accommodate movements of various seat elements.

An adaptive tensile control system includes a covering couple to a motorized retractor operable to release and retract the covering in response to control signals. An adaptive seat suspension includes a flexible suspension mat coupled to a motorized retractor operable to release and retract the flexible suspension mat in response to control signals. A method includes adapting the size of a support in a seat and adapting a covering overlying the support. A device includes an inflatable bolster within a seat having a covering. An apparatus includes a seat back and a seat that includes foam having a variable surface and a seamless covering.

Many car seats include heating elements, but this patent describes how a hi-tech car seat could also incorporate fans, to blow warm or cool air through the fabric.

In some examples, the flexible suspension mat includes a comfort element such as fan, a blower, a heating element, or the like. In the example shown, the comfort element is integrated into the flexible suspension mat. The comfort element provides a comfort function for the occupant of the seat, such as air to heat or cool the occupant.

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.


Check out 9to5Mac on YouTube for more Apple news:

You’re reading 9to5Mac — experts who break news about Apple and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Mac on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel

About the Author

Ben Lovejoy's favorite gear