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UTC graduate declared laureate by ‘Usine Nouvelle’ for his DecoControl Alu®

So, how do you place/insert a tac­tile switch on a brushed steel or wood­en dash­board? The auto­mo­bile equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­er now knows how to do this, thanks to work done by a for­mer UTC stu­dent. The con­cept goes by the name Deco­Con­trol Alu® and was sin­gled out by the French tech­ni­cal review ‘Usine Nou­velle’, award­ing its design­er Omar Ben Abde­lazis the 2015 Design trophy. 

Omar Ben Abde­laz­iz, a UTC grad­u­ate, in Decem­ber 2015 received the “Design­Tro­phy” at the Engi­neers for Tomor­row event orga­nized and spon­sored by the review ‘Usine Nou­velle’. The award is for a new tac­tile switch design that will oper­ate on any sur­face, includ­ing aluminium. 

As an Inno­va­tion Project leader at Fau­re­cia, the auto­mo­bile equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­er, the lau­re­ate is a spe­cial­ist in man-machine rela­tions in the Fau­re­cia Inte­ri­or Design divi­sion. This tech­nol­o­gy goes by the name of Deco­Con­trol Alu which was select­ed for then Design Tro­phy 2015, inas­much as the Jury rec­og­nized the extra degree of free­dom offered in the choice of mate­ri­als and in the design itself. The tech­nol­o­gy relies on a piezo-elec­tric effect where the slight defor­ma­tion of the switch pro­duces an elec­tric cur­rent, with a return that takes the form of a vibra­tion that the user’s fin­ger can sense.

High class interiors

This inno­v­a­tive design fol­lows suit to research car­ried out by Fau­re­cia on “decors” with tac­tile func­tions. “Using piezo-elec­tric sen­sors allows you to posi­tion the switch on all sorts of sur­face and mate­ri­als”, details Omar Ben Abde­laz­iz who heads this project. 

There are oth­er advan­tages to the device: retro-light­ing, the hap­tic reac­tion when the switch is acti­vat­ed and the ‘slim’ depth, less than1 cm com­pare with 2 to 3 cm for clas­sic tac­tile switch­es. For the com­pa­ny Fau­re­cia Sys­tèmes d’Intérieur, the world leader for vehi­cle inte­ri­or equip­ment, they can now offer a high class tech­nol­o­gy that use­ful­ly com­pletes its range of parts designed to improve the com­fort and con­vivial atmos­phere inside our cars. 

Lighter equipment

Anoth­er tar­get in terms of inno­va­tion is the search by auto­mo­bile man­u­fac­tur­ers to make and inte­grate lighter parts. “Today vehi­cle design­ers are high­ly sen­si­tive to seek­ing and find­ing min­i­mum weight for their parts, for the pur­pose of low­er­ing ener­gy con­sump­tion”, details Nico­las Dauchez, Head of the UTC-AVI indus­tri­al acoustics and vibra­tions course and research.

Reduced thick­ness for steel plates (includ­ing slim­mer tac­tile switch­es) are in line with this research, as well as the devel­op­ment of new mate­ri­als at Fau­re­cia. For exam­ple, they have devel­oped a mate­r­i­al called ‘NAFILean’, com­posed of jute fibres and syn­thet­ic resins that allow for an up to 20% gain in over­all weight. 100% nat­ur­al mate­ri­als are cur­rent­ly being explored as sub­sti­tutes for plastics.

Fau­re­cia con­tin­ues to ori­ent its cor­po­rate pol­i­cy to attain bet­ter ener­gy sav­ings, reduced reliance on hydro­car­bon sources, so as to be ready to adapt to the grow­ing demand trends for visu­al and con­nect­ed equip­ment… “We now have addi­tion­al screens that blend in well with the inte­ri­or design con­straints, such as hav­ing on board wire­less charg­ing sys­tems for mobile phones, or vari­able ambiance for the dri­ver ..” states Omar Ben Abde­laz­iz, to show how fast the sec­tor is evolv­ing today and the increas­ing frac­tion of man-machine inter­faces … his per­son­al spe­cial­ist domain.

Le magazine

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