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Bose is currently developing a new type of car suspension (see link below). They are replacing the spring and damper system used in all vehicles today with linear electromagnetic motors controlled by microprocessors and special mathematical equations. In this way, they can do away with the compromises
and shortfalls of the old damped harmonic oscillator system (spring and shocks). I.e. no more compromises between handling and comfort; it's soft when you need it and hard when you need it.
Now to my half baked idea. There is another damped harmonic oscillator setup that we use every day. It's called a mattress. And, like a car suspension, it can be improved upon by using linear electromagnetic motors and microprocessors.
Similar to the "Electromagnet Mattress" idea by [hippo], the mattress would be filled with linear electromagnetic motors instead of springs. The computer would figure out the orientation of your body by sensing the weight distribution on the mattress, and then calculate the ideal position of all the springs to conform to your body. A team of clever scientists (like Bose) could figure out the mathematical properties of a comfy surface and invent these algorithms.
The motors would then lock in place so, in a sense, the mattress would be rock hard, but each point on the mattress would press on your body with just the right amount of force, so the effect would be like lying in the softest possible surface.
Like the Bose car suspension, the system would react to sudden changes and cushion them like springs. After you shifted your position, the springs would quickly conform to the new shape.
Of course, there would be adjustable parameters. Maybe you prefer more lumbar support. Or you might prefer you legs to be slightly elevated. It could make adjustments to accommodate a back injury. It could accommodate multiple preferences for multiple occupants. Given a great enough motor range, the bed could rise up to form the pillows, complete with ideal neck support. In essence, it would be the perfect bed (unless you consider cost, weight, or complexity).
Bose Suspension System
"The proprietary Bose suspension system couples linear electromagnetic motors and power amplifiers with a set of unique control algorithms. For the first time, it is possible to have, in the same automobile, a much smoother ride than in any luxury sedan and less roll and pitch than in any sports car." [JephSullivan, Sep 28 2005]
Halfbakery: Electromagnet Mattress
[hippo]'s electromagnet mattress idea [JephSullivan, Sep 28 2005]
||The other day, in response to a halfbakery idea, I was thinking about a room with furniture formed only from a huge array of actuators that projected from the floor. Using force feedback, the softness of the floor/furniture could be programmable.
||That would be awesome. My wife and I keep saying that we need to go out and get a coffee table for our living room. It would be nice just to program one up. Also, you would never need to move the sofa to vacuum the floor.
||JS: Just how bumpy is your bedroom floor?!
||My current SleepNumber bed has adjustable air bag suspension. Not bad.
||[DrCurry], I'm not saying that the floor is moving. I'm just saying that regular mattress springs would be replaced with hundreds of little linear motors that would shape the mattress. It would actively conform to your body. I changed the wording a little in the explanation to clear that up.