Car interiors are evolving to become more and more comfortable. As the time occupants spend in the car increases, the activities they do in the car, such as working, watching videos and music, playing games, and sleeping, have become more diverse. Naturally, the importance of the size of the interior space of a car has also increased. Consumers’ preference for spacious interior space has grown.
However, it is impossible to keep increasing the space. So, automakers started to make room by making various improvements. The most effective of these is to reduce the volume occupied by the sheet. However, if the seat is reduced, the thickness of the cushion will also be thinned and the seating comfort will deteriorate; Comfort is sacrificed for more cabin space.
‘Ergo Motion Seat’ developed by Hyundai Transys overcomes this dilemma with technology. The Ergo Motion Seat adds internal air pockets to comfort its occupants. They perfected this to reduce seat volume and increase comfort. Researcher Sung-yoon Yeo from Hyundai Transys Seat Functional Design Team explains the development background of the Ergo Motion Seat as follows:
“The seat of the first-generation G80 (Hyundai Motors Genesis, BH) had a thick cushion. Later, the second-generation G80 (DH) attempted to reduce the thickness of the seat cushion. This allowed them to gain interior space, but their customers felt the seats were hard. Therefore, when developing the seats for the 3rd generation G80, the goal was to enhance comfort while maintaining the same thickness as the 2nd generation.”
Commenting on the air pocket idea, researcher Sung-yoon Yeo says: “The simplest way to make a seat comfortable is to use thick, soft cushions. However, the seat cushion cannot be thickened to secure cabin space including space above the occupant’s head. In particular, since electric vehicles are equipped with batteries at the bottom, the floor naturally rises, making it more difficult to secure overhead space. So we needed an idea to reduce the thickness of the cushion pad but enhance comfort. After thinking over and over again, we came up with an air pocket.”
The Ergo Motion Seat has seven air pockets: two on the floor cushion, three on the backrest, and one on each side bolster. It adjusts the posture of the occupant by controlling the amount of air in the pocket as needed. Hyundai Transys put a lot of effort into making air pockets that can handle the weight of the occupants. It secures both strength and durability by using plastic-based materials and laser bonding. As a result of the test, the Ergo Motion Seat performed well even with a load of 130 kg.
This performance requires a structure that is both flexible and strong. For example, if a seat is made with only air pockets, the shape of the air pockets will change depending on the degree of pressure, such as the weight of the occupant. Therefore, Hyundai Transys produced an all-in-one support that holds the shape of the air pocket when it inflates. The support helps the air bladder to always support the occupant in a uniform shape, even if the degree of pressure varies depending on the occupant’s body shape or weight.
Ergo Motion Seats house a function that allows the occupant to directly set the desired cushioning for the first time in the world. The air pockets in the seat cushion part are inflated by about 10mm, and the air pockets in the backrest are inflated by up to 30mm. Each part can be controlled as desired by the occupants. The function can be adjusted with a switch on the side of the seat and is also linked to the AVN monitor. Users can use it intuitively while directly checking the operating part.
There is another world-first technology that Ergo Motion Seat has - Drive mode interlocking technology that changes the seating posture by adjusting the size of the air pockets according to the drive mode setting. In the sport driving mode, air is injected into the air pockets on the side bolsters for 2 seconds to hold the occupant’s waist well, and the air pockets in the seat cushion are deflated so that the driver can immerse himself in driving in a lower posture. When the drive mode is changed back to normal, the posture before operation is restored.
One of the biggest advantage of Ergo Motion Seats is comfort in long-distance travels. In general, one of the reasons drivers feel fatigue during long-distance driving is the thinning of seat cushions. This is because the cushion in the seat is constantly pressed, making you feel lower than usual. But with the Ergo Motion Seat, this doesn’t happen. Researcher Sung-yoon Yeo explains:
“The Ergo Motion Seat’s smart posture assist function works after an hour of driving. When a passenger wears a seat belt, a signal is received, and the timing of the signal is the standard. When the smart posture assist function is activated, the air pocket in the seat back and cushion part inflates and turns off repeatedly. When you sit on a regular seat for a long time, the pad inside the seat is pressed and you get a feeling that it is slightly lowered. However, the air pockets slightly inflate the seat to alleviate this. Meanwhile, the Ergo Motion Seat also has a massage function using air pockets. You can adjust the intensity, area, operation time, etc., so you can get a massage as you like.”
Researcher Sung-yoon Yeo continued to explain the effectiveness of the Ergo Motion Seat: “The Ergo Motion Seat with these features has been certified for lumbar fatigue and stress relief. In collaboration with the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science, we evaluated the specific effect of the Ergo Motion Seat’s physical fatigue relief effect on passengers before and after system operation using clinical verification equipment such as brain waves and electromyography. As a result, the Ergo Motion Seat confirmed the effectiveness of various effects such as relieving the occupant’s stress, reducing fatigue in the hip area, and reducing fatigue in the lumbar area.”
When manufacturing a new seat, it is also necessary to verify safety and durability. This is because it must protect occupants in the event of a crash and at the same time maintain good condition during long operation. The Ergo Motion Seat has also undergone a rigorous testing process. Hyundai Transys confirmed the safety of passengers through the crash evaluation of the Ergo Motion Seat, and increased the durability evaluation test standard to 140,000 times to make it suitable for the 10-year warranty period. Considering that the durability performance evaluation test standard in other countries is 100,000 times, this is 40% higher.
Of course, maintenance of condition is also an important criterion in evaluating durability performance. The seat cushion is the first part that wrinkles when passengers repeatedly get on and off. In addition, friction deteriorates the durability of the seat surface. However, the Ergo Motion Seat showed the same performance and appearance quality as before the test even after completing 140,000 durability evaluation tests.
The Ergo Motion Seat, which solves the challenge of indoor space limitations with technology and adds comfort, won the IR52 Jang Young-sil Award hosted by the Ministry of Science and ICT on September 4, 2022 and hosted by the Maeil Business Newspaper and the Korea Industrial Technology Association. ‘. The name of this award comes from Jang Yeong-sil, an inventor during the Joseon Dynasty. The fact that it received an award for innovative technology born in the industrial field proves the innovation achieved by the Ergo Motion Seat.
‘Luga Seat’, one of the seat specialists who have handled the most diverse car seats for the longest time in Korea, compared Ergo Motion Seats with those of other automakers. Mun-yong Lee, manager of Luga Seat, who remodels the seats and sometimes receives custom orders, has experienced thousands of seats so far. He explained the difference between the air pockets of the Ergo Motion Seat and those of other automakers around the world.
“Other automakers also make seats with air pockets. However, many customers feel uncomfortable with the hardness or shape of the sheet. However, Hyundai Motor Group’s Ergo Motion Seat received fewer complaints. If the user’s body type is different, the design should also be different. I have experienced the seats of various types of cars so far, but I think the Hyundai Motor Group understands the body type of Korean consumers the best; Their air pockets are arranged differently from other automakers. There are more sophisticated features that are considerate of consumers.”
Mun-yong Lee said that another advantage of Hyundai Motor Group’s seats is durability; “And from the point of view of a specialist who remodels seats, I think Hyundai Motor Group’s seats, especially Genesis’, are very durable. There may be differences depending on the user’s environment and maintenance, but compared to other premium brands’ seats with a similar period of use, the touch and cushion condition of Genesis seats are often better. And this is why they feel more comfortable.”
In addition to several models of the Genesis brand, Ergo Motion Seats are currently used in various models such as Hyundai Grandeur and Kia K8, and will be expanded to applicable models in the future. For reference, all Ergo Motion Seats have the same structure. Specifications such as cushion thickness, leather, and quilting may vary depending on the class of each car, but the concept of maintaining passenger comfort by adjusting air pockets remains the same.
Hyundai Transys has been developing more diverse technologies since the Ergo Motion Seat. They are also researching a technology that automatically adjusts the air pockets according to the body shape and posture of the occupant to keep the occupant in the correct posture. By linking this technology with driving data such as navigation, it is possible to create a seat that responds in advance to suit the situation.
It is impossible to predict exactly what future cars will look like. But the essence of automobiles is mobility, and the importance of seats will not change; And as the types of mobility become more diverse, their importance may become more prominent. This is why many people pay attention to Hyundai Transys, which is introducing new technologies every time for a more comfortable travel experience.
Photography by Hyuk-soo Cho
HMG Journal Operation Teamgroup@hyundai.com