Car interiors of tomorrow: Part 2

Yesterday, we talked about possible future scenarios for car cockpits. Today, let us elaborate on that. More than ten textile and leather research institutes are currently dealing with ‘smart’ or ‘intelligent’ textiles in combination with fibre-based lightweight composites. These also include, amongst others, Techtextil exhibitors such as The Textile Research Institute Thuringia-Vogtland (Textilforschungsinstitut Thüringen-Vogtland – TITV) from Greiz, The Institute for Textile and Process Technology (Institut für Textil- und Verfahrenstechnik – ITV) in Denkendorf near Stuttgart and the Research Institute for Leather and Plastic Sheeting (Forschungsinstitut für Leder und Kunststoffbahnen – FILK), based in Freiberg / Saxony.

One very interesting example are light-emitting textiles: The lighting laboratory at the The Institute for Textile and Process Technology (Institut für Textil- und Verfahrenstechnik – ITV), which has the lead role in the project, is researching and demonstrating the properties of new types of light-emitting fibres that they have manufactured themselves; properties that are largely unknown, other than to a specialist public. The materials can be produced in any desired shape or colour, and at the same time produce a powerful light source, either by emitting light themselves or by being back-lit with LEDs across a wide area and, if required, also with a sense of three-dimensionality. This laboratory, one might add, is where notions of active lighting in interiors for the big motor manufacturers first begin to take shape, using structured methods for generating ideas.

Even bus, train and tram manufacturers have beaten a path to the door of these textile researchers, since the possibility of visual effects with textiles, based on active and passive light-emitting threads may well give new directions to their mobility solutions of tomorrow. “We are pushing forward some exciting research for HGVs, buses and aircraft,” says Laboratory Director Christoph Riethmüller, referring to projects that are financed by industry. For example, under the heading of ’emotional lighting’, they are working on a new kind of lighting design that can be coordinated with the optimum comfortable temperature. In this way, the passengers’ subjectively differing perceptions of temperature can, to a large extent, be reduced to a common denominator by the effects of the lighting controls.


Source – ITV – Lichtlabor

A specialist in the field of leather research, FILK Director, Prof. Dr. Michael Stoll, stresses the issue of weight reduction in the cabin interior through new combinations of materials, innovative seaming techniques, composite technologies and layering methods such as lightweight textile construction and organic electronics. When it comes to issues of feel / soft touch / and a sense of comfortable well-being, his team is continuing, on the one hand, to focus their attention on determining and objectively describing haptic parameters; on the other hand, their agenda consists of the targeted adjustment of haptic properties to produce pleasant sensations of touch using new kinds of surface structuring and layering techniques. On top of this, the Freiberg scientists are working on a passive cooling system for the seats to make them more comfortable to sit on. With a glance towards electric vehicles, they are also trying to create a defined level of air-permeability and/or circulation, with the help of optimised and cleverly combined materials, yet without, at the same time, affecting any other material properties.

Since the automotive and air-travel industries, in particular, are drivers of textile technologies, appropriate new developments will soon also be finding their way into representative offices, banks and not a few homes too: textile elements with alternate positive mood lighting, entrances to buildings with luminescent textile signs, curtains and woven wall components with lighting and air-conditioning functions. We are very much looking forward to the innovations to come.

Background picture: Source – STFI – 0063

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