Faurecia designs 'couture' interior concept

  • 28-Dec-2011 08:59 EST
Faurecia PaP INT.jpg

Faurecia's Pret-a-Porter demonstrator, unveiled at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show, lets worldwide customers see production-ready technologies and near-term innovations.

Faurecia's latest demonstrator dresses interior touch points in a cocoon of luxurious accents and novel technologies.

"In the Pret-a-Porter interior systems demonstrator, various materials are highlighted, including real wood, real aluminum, real leather, high-end fabrics, and various plastic trim pieces," Jay Hutchins, Faurecia's Director of Marketing & Product Planning, told AEI.

All materials meet fabric crush, staining resistance, UV stability, and other OEM performance specifications.

The Pret-a-Porter—a French phrase indicating ready-to-wear couture—features front and backside touch surfaces such as adjustable armrests wrapped in a pleated presentation and padded silk door pockets with a magnet closure.

"Pull open the door pocket, and you can feel the softness of the fabric and you can see what's stowed inside the pocket because it's backlit," Hutchins said.

The concept demonstrator's unique “infoskin” is a departure from a traditional gauge cluster. According to Dan Vandersluis, Faurecia Research and Innovation Engineer, information is projected onto the rear surface of a TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) skin so that it is visible to the driver.

"Using a proprietary skin and lens material combination, we are able to create a surface that maintains a high-quality resolution and brightness," Vandersluis explained, referencing the ability to show driver information without distortion.

The demonstrator features a TPO skin because of the material's physical properties, but a slush skin solution capable of handling high-quality image projection is currently under development, according to Hutchins.

Rather than an in-vehicle GPS system, the driver's smart phone would serve as the conduit for navigation aids to be viewed on the infoskin. A control pad on the center console provides the interface point for various in-vehicle tasks, including adjustments to ambient light and temperature settings.

The demonstrator lacks conventional HVAC system dashboard vents. On the driver's side, for instance, air flows along the layered surfaces that surround the infoskin. Said Hutchins, "We are calling this innovation SurfAir. It takes advantage of the 'Coanda effect,' which is the tendency of an air stream to be attracted to a nearby surface."

Because there are fewer moving parts with SurfAir technology compared to traditional solutions, this approach nets an overall improvement in quality, fit, and finish, noted Hutchins.

"As for any packaging savings, that would really be determined on a case-by-case basis," said Hutchins.

A pullout drawer on the lower passenger side dash of the demonstrator reveals a wireless charging mat for smart phones and other mobile electronic devices. Faurecia and partner Philips & Lite-On Digital Solutions co-developed the in-vehicle inductive charging system.

For the front seat passenger, a foot massage effectively solidifies the interior's overall comfort motif. According to Julien Seiller, Faurecia Advanced Design Manager, the medical industry provided the inspiration for an in-vehicle floor vibration system.

"This system is controlled through our embedded switch technologies. We worked with a partner to develop a system that can be mounted into the floor and would be adjustable in an appropriate range for consumer comfort," said Seiller, adding that the intent is to stimulate blood flow "to avoid having your legs fall asleep during a long ride."

All technologies on the demonstrator have been fully validated or are undergoing validation work.

Said Hutchins, "Our objective with the demonstrator is to elicit customer feedback and discussion to determine market pull for new product developments."

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