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Cadillac’s vibrating seat: It’s a new safety feature. Really. (VIDEO)

While vibrating upholstery is more commonly found in cheesy motels and nail salons, GM officials described the feature as a collision-alert system for highly-distracted drivers.
Cadillac xts 2012 03 28Enlarge
US Commerce Secretary John Bryson sits in the Cadillac XTS during his tour of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Mich., on Jan. 10, 2012. (GEOFF ROBINS/AFP/Getty Images)

General Motors is adding a new safety feature to its 2013 Cadillac XTS luxury sedan, Cadillac ATS luxury sedan and SRX luxury crossover: a vibrating driver’s seat.

While vibrating upholstery is more commonly found in cheesy motels and nail salons, GM officials described the feature as a collision-alert system for highly-distracted drivers.

"Vibrating alerts also may help drivers who do not hear beeping alerts due to hearing loss or competing noises, and may be preferred by drivers and passengers who might be annoyed by beeps and shut crash avoidance features off," General Motors' active safety technical fellow, Raymond Kiefer, said, according to PC Magazine. "The last thing we want is for drivers to turn off features with safety benefits."

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The way it works: Both sides of the seat pulse if it detects an object directly in front of or behind the car, and vibrate more insistently as the object gets closer, PC Magazine reported. If another object is hurtling towards the Cadillac from the right or left, the right or left side of the seat will buzz.

According to the New York Times:

The system senses the proximity of other cars or objects through various sensors and cameras that relay information to a control computer, which determines if a warning is necessary.

“We commend GM for their innovative use of haptic feedback and hope that drivers find it helpful,” Adrian Lund, president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, told MSNBC.

The vibrating is similar to the vibrating of a cellphone, according to PC Magazine. Drivers who find the vibrations unnerving can turn the feature off, the New York Times reported.

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