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CES: Bose keeps passengers in suspense

Sound design: Bose has traded fat bass for seat bases with a smart seat concept that will waft self-driving car passengers along in luxury.

Beyond Sound experience previews autonomous vehicle cabin by Bose


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6 Jan 2017

BOSE – a company almost universally known for its high-end audio systems – has revealed its contribution to autonomous vehicles at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), but the Beyond Sound experience is for your posterior and not your ears.

While many of the world’s car-makers focus on the vehicles that will transport passengers without a driver, the audio tech leader has recognised that, in addition to all the fresh challenges generated by autonomous cars, seating is something that must also be considered.

The Bose Ride seat borrows advances made by the company in commercial vehicle seating in 2010 when it created a driver’s pew that counters the vertical movement of a truck, but takes the concept further with motion cancellation in more than one axis.

Invited guests to the show will be offered a chance to test the ‘personal suspension technology’ as part of the Beyond Sound experience in Las Vegas, which isolates passengers from road vibrations, shaking and unwanted motion, says Bose.

According to the Massachusetts-based company, even the most advanced suspension systems still allow excess movement to be perceived by vehicle occupants, which could prevent them from effectively performing tasks other than driving, such as working or enjoying visual entertainment.

While seating configurations have been somewhat dictated by conventional vehicle design, Bose says the advent of autonomous vehicles will allow a clean-sheet approach to cabin design resulting in “amazing mobile spaces where passengers can enjoy unprecedented levels of stability, luxury, comfort and productivity on the road”.

Bose does not detail exactly how the Bose Ride works but the white leather-upholstered seat complete with electric adjustment and arm/leg rests is positioned on a specialised unit which controls the occupant’s movement according to the vehicle motion.

Unlike some wildly stylised concept-car seats, Bose has eschewed the radical in favour a more conservative and functional design that is not completely removed from its commercial vehicle connections.

Since the production Bose Ride model was introduced for trucks seven years ago, the system has been proving it has the potential to reduce harm caused by prolonged exposure to bumps, vibration and jolting and the advantages can be applied to cars, says Bose.

Bose Automotive Systems vice president Marc Mansell said that a rethinking of today’s seating model does not simply apply to autonomous vehicles but however transport systems evolve.

“No one can predict exactly what vehicles will look like or how they’ll operate in the decades ahead, but our personal suspension technology is already proven, and it can dramatically enhance the passenger experience regardless of how transportation evolves,” he said.

“If there are cars, there are roads and there simply is no other system that makes a ride – any ride – as smooth as Bose.”

It is not the first time a seat has debuted at a show as a standalone exhibit (so to speak), and luxury brand Lexus has previously pulled the covers from a Kinetic Seat Concept.

Before that, the same company revealed a Variable Load Coupling Rear Orientation system or V-LCRO seat that used a special fabric suit to adhere the driver to the seat, but it turned out to be an April fool.

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