Measuring Seating Comfort

Short version of the presentation by Dr.-Ing. Christian Mergl

A central question in the development of new seats is the seat comfort. Developers are very concerned about ways to measure the comfort objectively. Therefore, the focus of developers are models that establish a relationship between objective measures and subjective sensation which allows a virtual prediction of seat comfort. Mergl considers the measurement variables posture, microclimate, vibration and pressure distribution for detecting the seating comfort. He comes to the conclusion that the pressure distribution is the best parameter for determining the seat (dis)comfort in seat development.

Different aspects of seating comfort

Figure 1: Seating comfort (Click to enlarge)

Possible ways of measuring seating discomfort (see de Looze et al., 2003)

Comfort – Discomfort

Wo fängt der Diskomfort an?
Figure 2: Where does it start the discomfort? Source: Zhang and Helander (1996) (Click to enlarge)


Parameter Sitzhaltung im Fahrzeug
Figure 3: Parameters of posture in a car (Click to enlarge)

Posture - basics

Posture - Summary

Zusammenfassung Haltung
Figure 4: Posture - Summary (Click to enlarge)


Übersicht Einflussgrößen des Mikroklimas
Figure 5: Microclimate – Overview
Source: BG Verkehr, BGI 7005 (Click to enlarge)

Aspects of microclimate

Microclimate - Summary

z.B. Klimadummy STAN
Figure 6: Thermal Dummy STAN (Click to enlarge)


Figure 7: Parameters of vibrations (Click to enlarge)
Schwingungen erfassen
Figure 8: Measure Vibrations (Click to enlarge)

Vibrations - Summary

Pressure distribution

Ergebnisse Druckverteilung (Hartung 2006)
Figure 9:Pressure Distribution (Hartung 2006): (Click to enlarge)
Ergebnisse Druckerfassung (Mergl 2006)
Figure 10: Results (Mergl 2006) (Click to enlarge)

3 parameters are important:

These results have been validated for short term and long term exposition.

Further validation of pressure distribution

Ergebnisse Druckerfassung (Zenk 2009)
Figure 11: Ideal pressure (Zenk 2009) (Click to enlarge)
Messung mit Drucksensoren: Operation: zwei Drucksensoren werden in die 
        Bandscheiben L4-L5 und L5-S1 implantiert.
Figure 12: Measuring with Pressure sensors Pressure sensors were implanted in a test subject. (Click to enlarge)

Summary pressure distribution

Weitere Anwendungen Druckverteilungsmodell: Automatische Sitzeinstellung (Zenk 2006)
Figure 13: Further application of pressure distribution: Automatic seat adjustment (Zenk 2006) (Click to enlarge)


Einfluss Design (Knoll 2006)
Figure 14: Influence Design (Knoll 2006) (Click to enlarge)

What else can be done to get a comfortable seat?


Seat developer has several measures for prediction of seating comfort