The Lockwood Report

February 24, 2016 Vol. 13 No. 4

Connectivity is a byword of modern trucking life but you’ve never seen it like this.

How about a truck seat that can be adjusted remotely? Like from miles and miles away. No matter where the driver is, in fact.

And why would you want that? Well, therein lies a tale.

Two entrepreneurs in Moncton, NB, have been busy over the last three years developing an altogether new kind of seat for trucks, as well as for buses and heavy machinery. With a background in custom wheelchair design and physical rehabilitation, Shawn Leger took an idea to his inventor friend Darrell Mullen. The idea was to develop a very capable, medically proven seat for folks who spend a long time sitting down on the job. Together they formed Force 3 Innovations.

Their initial research took them to a couple of truck shows where they examined truck seats closely. They bought a few and tore them apart to see what was good and what was bad about the designs, concluding that there were good seat suspensions out there but not many good seat tops. They decided not to re-invent the wheel, rather to design just a seat — the main cushion and backrest — that can be fitted to existing suspensions. They call it a seat ‘topper’.

Darrell Mullen and Shawn Leger with their seat topperIntense development followed, and they took prototypes to three universities — Universit√© de Moncton, University of New Brunswick, and Waterloo University — for testing and validation. That work was finished just a month or so ago, and very successfully. The testing showed that the Force 3 seat improved comfort markedly but there were also unexpected cognitive benefits.

As Shawn Leger explains it, by focusing on the pelvis in their design, they’re able to adjust the seat to optimize a driver’s posture, remove any slumping, and thus “open up the chest” so that the lungs take in more oxygen. The result is improved alertness and less fatigue.

WHILE NOT YET ON THE MARKET, the idea is that the seat will be customized for each individual driver, with medical consultation in the process as required. Adjustability is near infinite, it seems, in order to accommodate all the weird and wonderful human body shapes out there.

And that’s where remote adjustment will enter the picture. The idea is that if a driver finds his seat uncomfortable three or four hours — or three or four days —   down the road, he could call Force 3, describe what’s going on, and from home base in Moncton they’d make adjustments through the ether. That’s phase two, says Leger. First they have to seal investor deals, find a manufacturer, and then get to market. He figures you’ll see their seats in the next 7 to 12 months.