Anyone who has spent 10 or 12 hours at a time behind the wheel of a car knows what a pain it can be. Now, a Minnesota company is trying to change that.
LiquiCell Technologies Inc. has developed a liquid-filled pad for use in seats that CEO Mike Arbeiter says can reduce fidgeting and "tailburn" for motorists during long car trips.
The technology, called LiquiCell, eases the downward pressure and friction the body creates when sitting for extended periods. In effect, the pads function like a blister so car seats feel more comfortable. Arbeiter says comfort is improved because liquid inside the pads shifts with body movement.
"You want the product as close to the body as possible," he says.
Each pad is 4 inches wide, 5 inches long, less than a quarter-inch thick and weighs less than a tenth of a pound.
Toyota uses the technology in some of its nameplates sold in the United States, including the Camry, Sienna, Sequoia and Tundra. Arbeiter pegs the cost at less than $10 for a system, such as one in the Camry, which has six pads.
The company is talking with other undisclosed auto customers.
LiquiCell produces the pads at its plant in Coon Rapids, Minn. It sells them to Trim Masters Inc., a subsidiary of Bartlett Corp., of Muncie, Ind., which incorporates the technology in the seat covers it supplies to the auto industry.
The technology also is used in seats produced by Recaro for heavy-duty trucks and buses.
LiquiCell also is used in bicycle helmets, gloves, insole pads and wheelchair and office seats.
Arbeiter would not reveal annual production figures. The company is private.
Competing technologies include foams and gels, but Arbeiter notes that LiquiCell is often used as part of a seating system that incorporates other kinds of cushioning.
Arbeiter founded LiquiCell in 2000. Its headquarters are in the Minneapolis suburb of Eden Prairie, Minn.