Investigation of design perception, ergonomic and structural factors influencing vehicle seat comfort

DEVLIN, James (2021). Investigation of design perception, ergonomic and structural factors influencing vehicle seat comfort. Masters, Sheffield Hallam University.

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The comfort of seating in vehicles is of importance to the user; the realisation of which, is strongly influenced by design perception, ergonomic and structural factors. The objective quantification and measurement of comfort, however, is as yet to be universally agreed upon, given that it is evident from the literature that there is no ‘gold standard’ for the measurement of comfort and that its evaluation is inconsistent (Pearson, 2009). During this study, electronic databases, hand searches and internet sources were used alongside physical testing with the aim of determining a robust method of analysis for seating comfort in vehicle seating, and to understand how much perception of a seat’s comfort affects and impacts upon user experience. Testing to investigate this question was conducted through the construction of an adjustable modular test rig which allows participants to alter specific elements of the seating geometry, namely: seat base height, seat base angle, seat back height and seat back angle. Prior to the participants engaging with the rig, a baseline position was taken from additional informal participants. The first stage of the study sees participants rating their perception of the seats comfort in the baseline position. They are then invited to sit in the seat and make any adjustments they require within the parameters listed above to find their optimal position. The second stage of the study sought to validate this by presenting the same experiment to the participants, but with the initial baseline position changed for their optimal position. During the testing phases, participants comments were recorded alongside the empirical data from their testing, to investigate links and the effect of the objective and subjective variables upon one another. So far, the findings indicate that the perception a user has of the seat prior to sitting in it has a significant impact on the user’s experience of comfort, however, they may still opt to change the seating geometry. This suggests that the factors influencing perception are affected more strongly by appearance elements such as seating surface and cushion material than by seating geometry, however, to what extent, is not yet known. The thesis concludes by analysing the testing methodology through a set of varied theoretical tests and improvements. These are made to allow the methodology to be applicable in a flexible manner to inform design decisions in a commercial setting resulting in improvements of occupant’s experience of comfort in in vehicular seating.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Thesis advisor - Philips, Mark
Additional Information: Director of studies: Mark Philips
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 21 Jan 2022 16:19
Last Modified: 08 Nov 2023 10:47

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