Pressure imaging measures impact interfaces with high resolution, providing new insight in injury-biomechanics

It’s surprising, but even in 2019 many car makers still design with data based on crash test dummies the size of the average male. Which is why, based on real-world crash data collected since the 1970’s, Volvo recently discovered that women are at higher risk of whiplash in an accident, due to their obviously different anatomy from the “average male.” Because they’re generally shorter than men, women sit closer to the wheel and lower in the seat, meaning they’re also more likely to suffer chest injuries and require different head protection.

Regardless of gender, height, shape or weight, it seems obvious that cars must be designed with the aim to protect all people beyond the ‘average man’ represented by crash test dummies.

In response to demand from safety engineers for superior tools to do just this, XSENSOR developed leading edge pressure imaging sensors that provide a level of high-speed impact data that’s never been available before now.

XSENSOR’S high speed pressure tools let engineers visualize and quantify with precision the interaction between passenger, seat, airbags and restraints in consistent and repeatable ways. If the goal is to make all people safer in a vehicle, these new insights mean improved passenger safety for everyone.



XSENSOR’S new platform of high-speed pressure imaging can be used in automotive impact testing for seats, airbags, seat belts and child seats.  With respect to seating, for instance, the impact system enables designers and safety evaluators to understand in a crash situation where the body makes contact with the seat, the effect of the pressures applied and what the consequences are for seat design.  XSENSOR’s ability to measure comfort, ingress and egress, vibration and transmissibility and the effect of both rear impact (whiplash) and front impact (seat belts and airbags) in multiple accurate and repeatable ways is unparalleled.

Currently, engineers rely solely on dummy sensors and data from high-speed cameras to predict what happens to passenger-dummies during a crash. With XSENSOR’s technology, you can see what’s happening to the subject on the seat surface, in unprecedented detail. As XSENSOR COO Bruce Malkinson says, “For the first time, data shows how the subject compresses onto the surface and how the safety designs in the seat respond to the impact. The combination of the sensor properties, the data transmission rates, and the software functionality means that safety engineers can now see pressure images from the entire impact scenario at speeds that are similar to other measurement tools. Now pressure imaging provides pressure data that’s fast enough to visualize the impact of car seats, airbags and seat belts.”

XSENSOR’s technology offers a new approach to the challenges of acquiring enough and qualified data in impact testing. For whiplash testing, over 3000 sensing points measure the impact of the dummy on the seat back and provide engineers detailed pressure maps to evaluate seat performance.  This intricate detail provides data showing how the timing, location and intensity of contact changes with dummies of various sizes.  This data provides new insights into improving the safety of seats for the full range of body sizes.


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