- To guard against motion sickness in the 2014 Buick Enclave, General Motors engineers used more than 75 children to test the placement of the rear DVD screen.
- While kids were on site for Take Your Child to Work Day, GM's Human Factors Group decided to see how smaller humans interact with vehicle systems.
- As a result of their findings, the DVD screen was positioned outside of what engineers called "the puke zone."
DETROIT — In order to guard against motion sickness in the 2014 Buick Enclave, General Motors engineers used more than 75 children to test the placement of the rear DVD screen.
The kids were on-site for Take Your Child to Work Day, and rather than waste the opportunity, engineers in GM's Human Factors Group decided to see how smaller humans of different sizes interact with vehicle systems.
"Our group and research is very data-driven," said Don Shreves, GM Human Factors Group manager, in a statement. "Designing every element to a vehicle comes down to millimeters. While a door handle placement or seat switch might feel right to the designing engineer, we come in with data points from real consumer feedback, including kids, to help determine the best location."
In addition to testing mechanisms like the Enclave's third-row seatbelt buckles, engineers wanted to determine the best placement of the entertainment system's screen to reduce motion sickness and provide the best viewing experience.
They installed tracks so the screen could be repositioned easily, then recorded the responses of more than 75 kids of varying ages as they watched videos from different angles. The data gathered by the researchers was collated and graphed to determine the optimum location, which was then integrated into the Enclave's design.
The goal was to focus the viewer's eyes upward and on a fixed spot, and so the screen was placed outside of what the engineers called "the puke zone."
"We know through other scientific research that even if our eyes are focused on a fixed point — if we can see the outside passing by in the window — our brain is telling us that we are moving," Shreves said. "But if our eyes are at a downward angle and do not see the view outside the vehicle, our bodies become sensitive to motion and increase the chance of sickness."
The Mayo Clinic's Web site agrees: "Imagine a young child sitting low in the back seat without being able to see out the window — or an older child reading a book in the car. The child's inner ear will sense motion, but his or her eyes and joints won't. The result might be an upset stomach, cold sweat, fatigue, dizziness, loss of appetite or vomiting."
So it makes sense to barf-proof a vehicle by placing the DVD screen in such a way that a viewer's brain isn't receiving mixed signals. Better yet, says the Mayo Clinic, have your child take a nap during a road trip, or "ask your child's doctor about an over-the-counter medication to prevent car sickness."
In any event, the site advises: "Don't give your child spicy or greasy foods or a large meal immediately before or during car travel. If your travel time will be short, skip food entirely."
Edmunds says: It's good that GM is paying attention to screen placement, but just in case, keep the Dramamine handy.