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Software Aids Drivers' Sore Backs

Software Aids Drivers' Sore Backs

A start-up automotive supplier has a message for drivers with sore backs: Move while you drive.

Comfort Motion Technologies (CMT), a maker of a software algorithm that helps automate driver seat movement, believes motion is more important to spinal health than the driver's posture or even the seat design. The company showed off its software-based solution at the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) World Congress held in Detroit in April.

"Our idea is to move the seat automatically," said Christopher Meyer, product engineer for CMT. "We believe if you move, it improves your comfort, reduces fatigue, promotes alertness and increases blood flow to the lower extremities.

The concept, invented by a chiropractor, combines a proprietary software algorithm with the vehicle's power seat hardware. At regular intervals, the software wakes up the power functions, opening and closing the seat like a clamshell. The key is the motion of the seat bottom, which moves in half-degree increments until it reaches a total travel of three degrees. In addition to working with the brushless dc motors that move the so-called "seat pan," it also interfaces with the seat's recline motor and lumbar support motors, if the vehicle incorporates those.

"The idea is to redistribute the pressure points in the body and change the way forces travel through the spine," Meyer said.

CMT engineers say that by supplying motion, the company's patented software concept provides a function that vehicle occupants normally seek when they naturally move around in their seats during long drives.

"The human body is very dynamic," notes the inventor, Dr. Paul Phipps, in an online video describing the technology. "It craves motion. Motion is how it functions well."

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