The design is quite ingenious. The seat is covered in drop-stitched fabric, which fills with air to create the form of the seat. An electric motor in it allows inflation and deflation in less than 40 seconds, according to Volvo. It weighs less than 5 kilograms (11 pounds) and folds small enough when collapsed to fit into a bag. It even has a Bluetooth connection, so parents can begin expanding it remotely.
The inflatable seat in the brainchild of Lawrence Abele, Volvo's design manager at its Monitoring and Concept Center in Los Angeles, CA. "For many, travelling with young children is a challenge; any assistance to simplify the parents' life with young children is a great thing," he said in a statement released by Volvo. The chair remains a concept for now, and the automaker isn't saying whether it's going to put it into production, but it's a clever solution to a common problem. Scroll down for a video showing it in action and to read the release.
Children's car seats are historically bulky, hard to move and tedious to mount. This is why Volvo Cars has designed a lightweight and inflatable rearward-faced child seat concept using groundbreaking technology. The seat is safe, easy to pack and carry and will enable parents to use it in many situations not practical with the seats on the market today.
Lawrence Abele, Design Manager at the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center in Los Angeles and the designer behind the new seat, had his two children in mind while designing the concept seat: "For me child safety is always the number one priority and when we lived abroad with two toddlers we had to haul bulky child seats through airports and then into taxis. For many, travelling with young children is a challenge; any assistance to simplify the parents' life with young children is a great thing."
The concept presents new opportunities, for example grandparents and friends who take care of your kids and need an ultra mobile child seat. It is also very convenient when travelling by taxi, rental car or bus, situations where you historically had to rely on the safety measures available.
Inflates in 40 seconds
The seat has an innovative pump system that is silent and efficient in its construction. The seat inflates in less than 40 seconds and deflates with an integrated pump. The total weight of the seat less than 5 kg, half the weight of a contemporary seat, and it is constantly online via Bluetooth enabling a wide range of features, including remote controlled inflation. It fits into a weekend bag together with other necessities for your child.
Unique drop-stitch fabrics
"We used a unique material called drop-stitch fabric when creating the prototype of the seat. This fabric is very strong when inflated as it can be brought to a very high internal pressure. It is a quite common technology in the boating industry and was originally developed by the military in an effort to develop inflatable airplanes," says Maria Hansson, Project Manager at Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center in Los Angeles.
The Inflatable Child Seat Concept faces the rear of the car, as it is the safest way for children to travel. A child's neck is under development and not as strong as an adult's neck. In a frontal impact collision, the head of a forward-facing car occupant is thrown forward inducing great stain on the neck. Children therefore need special restraints and to face the rear of the vehicle until at least 3-4 years of age.
"Actually, it would be better for all of us to travel facing the rear but given how cars are designed nowadays it's not feasible. Young children, however, can and should travel facing the rear of the car as long as possible," says Lawrence. "The goal was to design a seat as safe, or safer, than anything on the market right now but second to that I want everyone, including kids to be exposed to great design every day."