Challenge

Designing a car seat is complicated and can take months to conceptualize and engineer. In fact, it is one of the most complex car systems to design, second only to the engine.

Accenture was challenged to create a new approach to product design that would slash the timeline and bring the car seat into the modern, digital era.

For millions of drivers, the seats we spend hours in feel like a sore counterpoint to the otherwise pleasant experience of riding in a modern automobile. Uncomfortable, impersonal and primitive, they offer nothing if not room for improvement.

But what if the car seat were smarter—intelligent enough to provide a better driving experience? Accenture Labs is making this a reality by giving the car seat a 21st century makeover. As part of the digital reinvention of industrial manufacturing known as Industry X, the team rethought the engineering process behind the humble bucket seat, adopting an intelligence-driven, adaptive design.

What Accenture did

Accenture Labs' product engineering begins with conceptualization through crowdsourcing and artificial intelligence, progresses with design aided by virtual and augmented reality technologies, and concludes with prototyping that uses cutting-edge tools to cut costs and time. This approach can make a tremendous impact on the automotive industry, for example, in which the manufacturing process can take as long as 36 months, with prototyping and simulation accounting for one-third of total costs.

Accenture Labs mined data across major social platforms to find out what people were saying about car seats. From this, they extracted trends using AI algorithms to paint an accurate picture of the features consumers are actually interested in.

Using Accenture’s Digital Talent Broker, they quickly assembled a team of skilled workers with relevant experience to cull through the information and identify the top problems voiced across social media.

"This convergence of a whole spectrum of breakthrough technologies from AI, edge intelligence and extended reality to 3D-printing and advanced analytics in this era of Industry X—it’s a game-changer for product development."

— Mary Hamilton, Managing Director, Digital Experiences R&D Lead – Accenture Labs

Value delivered

Accenture Labs' innovative car seat prototype garnered strong interest from automakers, paving the road for these innovations to add to drivers’ safety and comfort. As Industry X continues to redefine manufacturing with technology like mixed reality design and virtual prototyping, sectors from the automotive industry to aerospace will see significant changes and improvements:

More personalized experience

Innovations, such as rear and wing mirrors that adjust automatically to the driver’s height, ensures optimal views outside the vehicle.

Driver safety

Adaptive design that can detect body movements to slow the car down accordingly.

New breakthroughs

Saving time and costs from new seat designs will enable auto manufacturers to develop other innovations and services that can add value to the vehicle and their bottom line.

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