Professional drivers, in particular drivers of police cars, fire trucks and ambulances, are working under conditions that require a high mental effort. This is caused by a combination of high driving speed and exposure to a high level of visual and auditive signals in the car. Utilising touch results in a reduction of reaction time and mental effort, which is proven by TNO research. Sentaz developed an innovative turn-by-turn navigation system that guides drivers by gentle vibrations in their seat. This tactile navigation system has been developed with, and successfully tested by, end-users.
“It is a real pleasure to work with Anneke. She is committed, has an entrepreneurial mindset and is a master in rapid prototyping. Her commitment, vision and drive accelerate product development.”Merijn Klarenbeek – Director of Safety and Defence – Elitac B.V.
Most (vehicle) navigation systems are based on turn-by-turn navigation. The user selects a destination and the system calculates a route. Navigation systems inform the user whether to turn left, right take a roundabout or other navigation instructions. These systems provide information using a screen and voice assistance. In our system, the user receives navigation cues using gentle vibrations in the driving seat. Distinctive, intuitive patterns are pre-set as navigation instructions.
Key in this project has been the close development together with end-users. At the start we quickly made a proof-of-concept that we integrated in multiple first-responder vehicles in the Netherlands. First results showed that navigation they started looking less at their navigation screens, trusting more on the Tactile Car Seat. Some iterations have been made in improving the different vibration patterns, in order to make the system more intuitive.
The next step was to evolve this proof-of-concept into a product that was both producible and robust. The Tactile Car Seat is integrated directly into the car seat, and will remain there for the rest of its lifetime or lifetime of the first-responder vehicle. Critical in this development process was thus to create a product that can last, using high quality automotive foams, overmoulded electronics with stress relieve on the wiring. My role was the design of the total assembly, development of the foam layers as well as looking into product assembly. Furthermore I developed user manuals and packaging.
The Tactile Car Seat is currently used in multiple firefighting regions in the Netherlands. Together with safety region Groningen we have been adapting and further developing the tactile patterns, together we received the “Jan van der Heyden 2017” price for best innovation. The video below explains more about the product and its use.
Wearable Development, Integrating Stretchable Electronics, Prototyping, User Experience (UX), Demonstrator App, User Testing