General Motors is using gaming systems to better engineer its vehicles – but not in the way you might think.
The company is using the Kinect motion sensor, originally made for the Xbox 360, to develop a new way of improving the way car seats fit into its vehicle. With loads of new car seats and no standard sizing, it can be tricky for manufacturers to figure out a way to accommodate all shapes and sizes.
“There are over 250 different makes and models of child safety seats on the market, and new or revised models are introduced every year,” said Julie Kleinert, GM’s Global Child Safety Technical Lead, “and the lack of an industry standard for the size and shape of child seats makes it quite challenging for vehicle engineers.”
Kleinert and her team developed a method of using the Kinect controller to scan and digitize the shape of a child seat in minutes–at a fraction of the cost of an industrial scanner.
The team scans dozens of child seats and overlays them onto top of one another. This provides them with the maximum amount of space needed for a particular category of child seat. The image above, for example, shows a whole bunch of car seats overlaid on top of one another. From there the team can figure out all the odd protrusions and shapes of each child seat and obtain the maximum dimensions. While it’s still in the early stages of development, the virtual evaluations may prove to be a simple way to assess a large range of child seats with a single tool.
“This new tool will be a great help to us in evaluating child restraint compatibility early in our vehicle design process,” said Kleinert.
It might not be the sexiest use of technology but hey–if it keeps kids safe–why not?