Audi has partnered with design team Clemens Weisshaar and Reed Kram on a unique chair project called the R18 Ultra Chair for the 2012 Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan. The public will have an opportunity to beta test a prototype chair developed with lightweight manufacturing methods derived from Audi’s new R18 Ultra race car. The chair is based on three components, a carbon composite seat, a carbon-rubber backrest and aluminium legs which all can be flat-packed in a box.
The prototype has one other unique feature. It is fitted with a network of sensors which will gather crowd sourced data from visitors who test the chair. The data will be processed by algorithms developed by Weisshaar and Kram and the final shape of the chair will be derived from the results.
Visitors to the installation are invited to use the chair and view their unique physical impact on it displayed via a video wall inside the testing booth. Hundreds of industrial sensors integrated into the prototype capture every movement and simultaneously display it as a realtime false colour force simulation, thus exposing and visualising the flow of forces normally hidden from the human eye. The purpose of this live laboratory is to gather user data in order to optimise the final product and shed every gram of excess weight. Every testing session will be documented as a personalised video and sent back to each visitor by email link to watch and share with friends. After the PUBLIC BETA phase, all crowd-sourced data will be fed into the chair’s design parameters and its production adapted as necessary.
In addition to the onsite activities, Audi has created an online site for the R18 Ultra Chair project. Included is a free digital version newspaper called the The Ultra Journal which documents the design process, interviews the designers and details the behind the scenes technologies that crossed over from Audi’s automotive manufacturing.
The final version of the R18 Ultra Chair will be debut in December 2012 at Design Miami.