With kinetic seats, "I'm going to the gym" really means I'll go for a drive.
Already, the changing discussion on the role that the automaker has in our modern era of self-driving cars and ride share services is beginning to reveal that the way we've thought about the car for over 100 years may no longer be relevant. Ford has taken the first steps to change its status as an automaker to that of a transportation provider and the rest of the industry seems poised to follow at some point. And now, Mercedes is rethinking the role of the car entirely by making its seats healthier for you.
As a luxury car manufacturer, Mercedes has a different role than Ford. High-end car buyers want more than something that goes from A to B, so the Tri-Star is looking towards turning its cars into digital companions for their drivers. Most medical studies on sitting have concluded that it's bad for you and given that the three places the stereotypical American worker spends the most (work, home, and commuting between the two…what a sad life Mercedes thinks we all live) all involve sitting, the automaker wants to at least make one of those spaces more healthy. Its S-Class Maybach-based "Fit and Healthy" concept displays a suite of features added to the car to help stave off the negative effects of sitting for hours and improve health.
For example, when inputting an address into the GPS, one can opt to take the "least stressful" route rather than the fastest or more conventional road. While on the way, active massage seats will move to promote changes in seating position, keeping the body from tiring too much in a single area. These work in conjunction with music, lighting, and scents that are tailored to the driver's mood and surrounding traffic. If a passenger is feeling a bit groggy, the system, which analyzes passenger's health, can recommend a power nap. It would then begin to play relaxing music and begin a deep massage program, only to switch to more stimulating settings when nearing the destination.
The idea is to turn the inside of the car into a "holistic ecosystem" much like you'd expect in a smart home of the future. Mercedes has thankfully decided to partner with Phillips technology group, a medical tech provider, because even though we'd trust Mercedes to build us a car to lap the Nurburgring with or to go on a grand touring journey with in style, the company isn't exactly in the business of medicine. If Mercedes wants to change that, it should hurry up with the technology if it hopes to stay ahead of the competition because Lexus is already leading the charge on healthy seats.