Head restraints from Johnson Controls offer new solutions for comfort and safety

Automotive supplier showcases head restraint innovations and modular armrests for rear seat systems

Frankfurt, Germany –September 2013. Johnson Controls, a global leader in automotive seating systems and components, is offering new solutions for head restraint systems and armrests for rear seat systems which boast smart electronics, innovative materials, modular construction, and premium acoustic design.

“While head restraints contribute to a safe and comfortable driving experience, weight and design are also major influencing factors,” said Oliver Alber, director Innovation Small Parts for Johnson Controls Automotive Seating. “At Johnson Controls, we fulfill the highest expectations of automakers and drivers for these products and work continuously on optimizing these areas.”

Head restraint with integrated actuators
At the International Motor Show (IAA) 2013 in Frankfurt, Johnson Controls is showcasing an electric head restraint that can be adjusted both vertically and horizontally. The innovation is in the integration of all components. Vertical and horizontal adjustment is driven by two actuators built into the head restraint.

Drawing on their experience with seat adjusters, engineers at Johnson Controls’ Sound & Vibration Lab have designed the actuators to be extremely quiet. The electronics integrated into the head restraint enable communication with the vehicle’s seat control unit, while an optional connector plug on the end of the frame allows easy removal of the head restraint.

The new head restraint with passive whiplash protection provides impressive safety for vehicle occupants. The pre-crash function feature increases the speed at which the head restraint moves forward in the event of a collision to 50 millimeters per second and makes it four to five times faster than normal adjustment speeds. This means that the head restraint can be connected to other pre-crash features in the vehicle. Manually adjustable side wings provide additional comfort and can also be fitted with a tilt feature.

Third-generation riACT head restraint with active crash protection
Automakers that rely on head restraints with active safety systems for whiplash prevention will see at the IAA a product innovation known as the third-generation active riACT head restraint. This advanced riACT head restraint from Johnson Controls is lighter and more effective than its predecessor. In the event of a rearend collision, the forward displacement of the head restraint is put into motion in 20 milliseconds, effectively minimizing injuries to the cervical spine. The passenger can adjust the distance between the head restraint and their head manually to suit their needs. Another slimline, space-saving version of this product is available for use in vehicle seats with integrated head restraints.

Johnson Controls is also showcasing an innovation in materials and production processes at the IAA with the prototype of its pour in place (PIP) rigid foam head restraint. Thanks to PIP technology, the head restraint, cover, and mechanism are inserted into the foam tool and covered with foam until they set in a predefined form. Unlike conventional foams, the material is of lower density but higher strength. This enables space-saving, slimmer designs.

Modular armrest with multiple customization options
Johnson Controls continues its modular concept with a component design for rear seat systems which will debut at the IAA. The new modular armrest is based on intensive analysis of current market and customer needs. A consumer research survey of numerous automobile users was conducted by Johnson Controls to find out how they use the rear seat and their preferences for armrests. Five different uses were identified that often vary from journey to journey, regardless of the vehicle type and size. The survey found the rear seat is sometimes used as a mobile children’s room or living room, sometimes as a mobile office or reception area for guests and sometimes as additional storage space. Consumers want a flexible, yet sturdy armrest with a high-quality feel for the rear seat system.

The new product from Johnson Controls fulfills the demands for functionality and customization. The system consists of modules of standardized key components plus additional elements and can be used in different manufacturer or segment vehicles as well as within a model series, from basic to premium. Multiple customization options are available, for example by finishing surfaces with leather, decorative stitching, or chrome parts and integrating lighting elements, cup holders, and storage space or ports for consumer electronics. For instance, smartphones can be conveniently placed in a compartment and cordlessly charged. The high degree of flexibility is facilitated by an intelligent standard solution for connecting the armrest to various armrest structures.

Johnson Controls will present its innovations from Sept. 12–22, 2013, at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt, Germany, in Hall 5.1, Booth B28. Digital images are available online.

For more information, please contact:
Johnson Controls GmbH
Automotive Seating
Industriestrasse 20–30
51399 Burscheid

Ulrich Andree
Tel.: +49 2174 65-4343
E-Mail: ulrich.andree@jci.com

Oliver Herkert
Tel.: +49 2174 65-4348
E-Mail: oliver.herkert@jci.com