• 13-APR-2016


Adding the Perfect Touch to Every Car

A dedicated team at SEAT works on studying the sensations customers perceive when touching elements of a car

"This  material feels  smoother  to me. The feeling  is much  more pleasant  than the  first one" states Sara, who is participating in a blind test conducted by Raul Funes, an engineer  in the SEAT Haptics  department  (interaction involving  touch). There is  a  group  of  professionals  at  SEAT who  are  devoted  to  studying   and  perfecting   the sensations felt by users when they touch the interior elements of a car.

The  work  carried   out  by  Raul  and  his  team  involves   the  "material world"   and   sense perceptions. Although   it may  seem  somewhat   subjective   and  difficult to  assess, in  fact everything  is perfectly  gauged: "We  put in more than three years of work before a car goes on sale", explains Raul. In order to increase the objectivity of sensorial opinions, we carry out more than 150 blind  tests on car parts every year:"We  blindfold  the person performing the test so they can fully concentrate  on tactile  inputs. This is an example  of how we analyse and scale the glide factor and consistency of certain materials''.

And what is the purpose of all this testing? To offer a feeling of authentic quality  through  the use of touch. "Whichever button people touch, they all have to offer the same feeling of consistency. The results of our work can be felt in the small details and overall impression given by the car".

Haptics is in constant evolution  and also adapts to the technologies of the future. Nowadays, the  trend  is  for  individual buttons   to  disappear  now  that  touchscreens  are  gaining in popularity. In this sense, Raul's department  is focussing on defining  the amount of pressure that  customers have to apply to the screen or on making  sure that the layout of all elements is  consistent   with  natural  human  movement.  Likewise,  another  area they  work  on  with haptics  is  in defining  the  spaces  to  house  objects  commonly  used  by  drivers, suc h as a phone, umbrella  or laptop. The objective  is to design  a logical and useful space for storing items, bring spatial order to the interior of the car and ensure functionality.

Achieving the perfect surface feel that a car should provide to its customers is truly a "one-of­ a-kind  job", says Raul. So much so, that every time he explains  what he does, he gets asked "do people really scrutinise every little detail on a car?"