Unlike the vibration from an incoming text message or phone call, a new use of the buzzing technology is meant to keep you alert in the car, not distracted.
Cadillac’s new XTS luxury sedan features an industry first: vibrating seats that alert drivers to any possible dangers while driving or parking. The seat generates a vibrating pulse when a driver finds himself in a potentially precarious situation, such as drifting into a different traffic lane or coming too close to nearby objects when parking.
The seat can vibrate on either the left or right side, depending on where the threat originates. If the danger or obstacle is coming from the front or rear of the vehicle, both sides of the seat are activated.
“It’s akin to someone tapping on your shoulder in a crowd to get your attention,” said General Motors Active Safety Technical Fellow Raymond Kiefer in a GM press release.
Aptly named the Cadillac Safety Alert Seat, the device uses a variety of sensors and cameras in the car to help “intelligently” decide when it’s appropriate to signal a warning. If a turn signal is on, for example, warnings regarding lane drifting are not activated.
While the idea of eliminating yet another noise from the driving experience is always a nice one, GM research shows that the vibrating seat may actually be more effective at directing driver attention than beeping alerts.
“Vibrating alerts also may help drivers who do not hear beeping alerts due to hearing loss or competing noises, and may be preferred by drivers and passengers who might be annoyed by beeps and shut crash avoidance features off,” Kiefer said. “The last thing we want is for drivers to turn off features with safety benefits.”