Smart seating in the air

British industrial designer Benjamin Hubert, who heads the Layer Studio, presented an innovative concept of economy class seating for Airbus aircraft. Passengers will be able to monitor and control their seats through special mobile app.
1 March, 2019
The Hubert's team has worked on the concept for over 18 months in the framework of cooperation between the Layer design studio and Airbus, in order to redefine the experience of flight. The seating concept, called Move, is designed to improve the experience of economy class on short to mid-haul flights.

Cutting-edge seats are covered with smart textiles, which are connected to the mobile application using sensors. The application allows you to receive notifications required in flight, as well as adjust the position of the backs, seat temperature and humidity level.

Currently in the prototype stage, each chair is made up of a knitted, one-piece sling seat secured over a lightweight perforated aviation aluminium and carbon fibre frame. Digitally knitted from a polyester wool blend with an integrated conductive yarn, the smart seat cover is connected to a series of sensors that detect both the passenger's body and the conditions of their chair. During the flight, the seat automatically adjusts to the body shape, weight and movement of the passenger.

The Move app analyses the data collected by the sensors, and sends targeted messages to the passenger telling them how they can improve their comfort.

These include prompting them to get up and move around the cabin to improve circulation, to do in-seat stretches or to stay hydrated.

Users can further customize their seat conditions via the app by selecting different modes such as "massage", "meal time" or "sleep".

Layer also addresses the issue of "legroom rage" caused by passengers unnecessarily reclining on shorter flights by fixing the position of the seat back. Instead of reclining, passengers can keep comfy by adjusting the settings of their smart seat.

In addition to enhancing the flying experience, Layer wanted to improve the sustainability of the aircraft.

Both the knitted seat and its lightweight frame – made from aluminium and carbon fibre – significantly reduce the on-board weight, bypassing the need for unsustainable foam material typically used in aircraft seating, and improving fuel efficiency.

"At Layer, we believe good design should be accessible to all," said Layer founder Benjamin Hubert. "All too often, new concepts for flying are focused on innovation in business class."

"We were excited to take on this project with Airbus to find ways to improve and add value to the economy class experience – for both the passenger and the airline," he continued.

Move is not the only project by Layer that is tailored to the user's needs. The design studio recently teamed up with London-based eyewear brand Kite to launch a service that takes 3D scans of customers' faces, then uses them to produce perfectly fitting frames.
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