Climate control gone mad?
Air conditioning is old hat in this age of wirelessly powered electric cars, but Nissan has found a way to spice things up a little with its ‘Forest AC’ system which, to quote, “systematically controls cabin temperature, ventilation, aroma and humidity to create an optimal interior environment.” And yes, you did read “aroma” there.
The thinking behind Forest AC is that by turning the environment inside a vehicle into a simulacrum of a relaxing forest setting, by altering fan speeds to emulate wind, pumping in fragrances and altering humidity levels, drivers can simultaneously have their awareness heightened while also becoming more relaxed. That sounds a little oxymoronic, but of course by ‘relaxed’ Nissan means ‘unstressed’ as opposed to ‘lethargic’ which is no bad thing.
The aroma in question will come from a replaceable “aroma cartridge” which should last for a year without changing. The aromas in question are borneol – which “combines a compound made from fragrant Kapur wood, lavender and other essential oils to promote calm and focus” – and leaf alcohol, which is “thought to have a calming effect and reduce fatigue.”
These aromas are combined with another element of Forest AC, called “Breezy Air” which varies the volume of air flowing through various vents in order to emulate the feel of wind, in combination with external sunlight and temperature sensors to ensure all passengers remain comfortable. The combined effect of Breezy Air and Forest AC’s aromas is to keep those subjected to it alert and focussed, but free of tension.
Forest AC also employs humidity control to eliminate condensation on windows, but also to help prevent the cabin from becoming too dry – as can happen when using some air conditioning systems. Specifically, a humidity level of 30 to 55 per cent, rather than a more typical 20 percent is maintained.
Further still, Forest AC offers automatic intake control, which uses sensors in the ventilation system to switch between inside and outside air depending on the quality of the external supply and a “high-performance” filter, for removing pollen, odours and allergens, is also featured. Last up is a “plasmacluster ion” system, which purports to sterilise air and kill germs in the cabin.
All of this sounds perhaps just a little far fetched, or prototype in nature, but Nissan is entirely serious. Forest AC will debut in the Nissan Fuga, which is planned to launch this financial year, and is likely to turn up in other Nissan cars afterwards. Just expect it to be a fairly expensive option.