Rolling down your vehicle window to get a breath of fresh air may be unnecessary in your next Nissan. The Japanese automaker just announced the development of its new "Forest AC" air conditioning system, an automotive climate control setup designed to control humidity, aroma, and other ambient factors in addition to the temperature and air cleaning features found with current systems. According to Nissan, the Forest AC is the first automotive system in the world created to make driving more comfortable based on the driver's mental activity.

The development of the optimal artificial atmosphere for driving was based on Nissan's studies of how surroundings influence the physiological state and senses of test subjects. Researchers found that when humans were exposed to certain aromas (e.g., fragrant wood and leaves) combined with ventilation simulating natural breezes, they were alert and focused yet free from unnecessary tension. While there is no word if the scent of freshly baked waffle cones has the same effect, Nissan says we'll see Forest AC on the new Fuga scheduled to debut in Tokyo later this year. Check out the fragrant details in the press release after the break. Thanks for the tip, Richard!

[Source: Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.]


Nissan Develops New "Forest AC" Air Conditioning System - Controls Aroma and Humidity to Help Create Ultimate Cabin Comfort

TOKYO (July 23)
- Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. today announced the development of a new "Forest AC" air conditioning system, which systematically controls cabin temperature, ventilation, aroma and humidity to create an optimal interior environment. Utilizing a number of advanced technologies, the system is designed to recreate the refreshing climate, fragrance and natural breezes of relaxing forest settings. It was developed based on the results of a joint research study with the Tokyo University of Science on the effects of aroma on human mental activity.

Along with the air-cleaning and temperature control effect of conventional car air conditioners, the new Forest AC system offers additional control of air flow, humidity, aroma and other ambient factors that can influence the physiological state and senses of the driver and passengers. This is the first automotive system in the world created to make driving more comfortable based on studies of drivers' mental activity.
This system is scheduled for use on the new Fuga which will be released later in Nissan's current fiscal year.

The major features of the Forest AC are as follows:

  • Breezy Air
    Another unique feature of the Forest AC is its creation of gentle, fluctuating "natural breezes" by randomly changing the volume of air flowing through the upper and front vent outlets for greater occupant comfort. The system senses sunlight and outside temperatures and controls the ventilation patterns accordingly, supplying just the right amounts of air so, for example, occupants on both the sunny and shady sides of the vehicle feel comfortable.

    In developing the system, the first such design for a passenger vehicle, Nissan employed an original body-temperature model that determines skin temperature by simulating heat conduction and the human body temperature mechanism.
  • Aroma
    Taking a hint from the pleasant effect of forest air on people, Nissan studied the effects of aromas on human mental activity. The resulting Forest AC system intermittently and alternately furnishes two unique aromas, borneol*1 and leaf alcohol*2, to alleviate boredom and stimulate the driver's brain. Borneol combines a compound made from fragrant Kapur wood, lavender and other essential oils to promote calm and focus, while leaf alcohol is found in most plants and is thought to have a calming effect and reduce fatigue. The system utilizes a special interchangeable aroma cartridge (with a one-year life) to produce the forest effect.

    Development of the Forest AC was based on results of a joint Nissan research study with Professor Kikunori Shinohara of the Tokyo University of Science, Suwa, Japan. "The relaxed state," said Professor Shinohara, "is one in which the person calms down from external conditions or the consequences of what he or she has done and achieves mental acuity, resulting in good work." Test subjects simultaneously exposed to these aromas and controlled ventilation simulating a natural breeze exhibited changes in cerebral blood flow. This, Shinohara says, can create the relaxed state of a person sitting for calligraphy or a tea ceremony - alert and focused, yet with tension relieved.
  • Humidity Control
    The Forest AC's newly developed humidity sensor accurately detects condensation on windows and eliminates it, while also preventing cabin air from drying out through optimal control of the system's onboard dehumidifier. To increase sensor precision, Nissan's original control system factors in both exterior temperature and vehicle speed. This is the first time Nissan has employed a dehumidification function in an air conditioning system for humidity control. The system maintains comfortable humidity levels (roughly 35 - 55%), preventing the "over-drying" feeling of conventional A/C systems (with typical humidity levels of around 20%).
  • Automatic Inside/Outside Air Control with Odor/Exhaust Sensors
    Nissan's new Forest AC provides active control of the ventilation system, increasing ventilation flow accordingly to optimize the oxygen levels of the vehicle's cabin. The system utilizes an automatic intake control system, coupled to multiple wide-range, highly sensitive micro-sensors, to prevent the inflow of unpleasant air into the cabin.

    In addition to a conventional exhaust sensor, the system includes the world's first sensor system for detecting various other odors, such as from animals, from outside the vehicle - opening or closing the intake vents as needed without constant driver input. The system also utilizes an inside sensor, located at knee level, to detect cigarette odors and other unpleasant interior smells and increase airflow if necessary.
  • Plasmacluster Ions with Sterilizer
    The Forest AC's new-generation plasmacluster ion*3 system generates and supplies plasmacluster ions (through the ventilation system) at higher densities than in previous systems. These ions maintain cabin air quality, kill germs through strengthened bacteria deactivation and minimize odors clinging to the cabin air and interior surfaces (odor substances are destroyed by OH radicals produced from the ions).

    The Nissan system achieves ion densities 10 times higher than previous automotive system, including those in the recently introduced Skyline Crossover, providing odor-elimination and sterilization effect.
  • High-Performance Filter for Removing Pollen, Odors and Allergens
    The Forest AC utilizes a special high-performance filter, made from material impregnated with natural grapeseed polyphenol*4, which is designed to more effectively remove pollen and deactivate allergens drifting in the cabin than conventional filters. Similar filters are already in use in high-end, intelligent room air conditioners.

    Nissan develops technology to set new standards in terms of comfort, quality and other factors for every aspect of the automobile, putting human characteristics first, based on the Life on Board concept, which is designed to deliver more joy of driving.