Are Smart Seats the Next Big Innovation for Aircraft Cabins?

The average aircraft has around 150 seats according to MIT’s Airline Data Project. Each individual seat on an aircraft must be designed to fit many different sizes and forms.

Comfort and personal space are always a concern when it comes to the cabin experience, especially on long flights. New innovations in smart seats are intended to improve those in-flight conditions.

Traditional Aircraft Seating

Traditional seats in airplane cabins have a stiff, slim design made to get as many travelers as possible from point A to point B. They make sitting in economy less than dreamy.

There have been advancements in IFEC that make the time spent in those seats more bearable, but little attention has been paid to actual comfort. Aircraft companies have, for the most part, focused on fitting more seats into cabins rather than making the existing seats more welcoming.

Most adult passengers have likely experienced back soreness and difficulty shifting around in their small bubble of personal space during a flight. There’s little room to lean back, which can be especially uncomfortable for tall people who require more legroom.

Potential Smart Seat Prototype Designs

Layer’s Smart Textiles and App Adjustment

One of the most promising advancements in seat technology thus far are Move Seats, designed by LAYER, a London based design company. The lightweight polyester textile fabric is designed to form to any physique. An electrical current allows passengers to control the firmness and temperature of their own seat through an app.

Not only is the design better for passengers, but it is also beneficial for aircraft carriers. They weigh less than traditional airline seats and have the potential to offer significant fuel savings

B/E Aerospace’s Knee-Rescue Seat

B/E Aerospace’s Knee-Rescue seats focus on leg room. These seats can be moved forward and back on automated tracks that are controlled by flight attendants from a tablet. The fundamental idea is you can have a child behind a tall person to give the tall person more room while bringing the tray table closer to the child or short person.

There are a couple potential problems with this concept. Planes would likely need to have tracks and motors for seat movement installed, which could be large investment on a fleet of aircraft. Passengers would also need to disclose their height during check in, which is another somewhat intrusive step travelers may not appreciate or answer honestly.

Universal Movement’s Interspace Lite Seat Adaptation

As a simple “equipment adaptation”, Universal Movement’s Interspace Lite wings might be more appealing to airlines. These wings extend forward five or six inches from the edge of seatbacks to give passengers mini cubicles. These short cubicle walls are cushioned, allowing passengers to use it as a headrest or pillow. Carriers could reconfigure cabins with Interspace Lite equipment rather than having to scrap their existing cabin interiors.

The wings fold out creating a barrier between passengers for immediate privacy, taking away the awkward feeling of a stranger watching you sleep. They are sturdy enough to support your head so you can lean side to side without touch the passenger next to you.

Smart technology installed in the wings can also detect when a person has fallen asleep and pause their media for a more restful experience. If the Interspace Light adaptation were to be widely adopted the only people who would suffer are those in the travel pillow industry.

Universal Movement’s design is still just a prototype, and as of yet there’s little indication it will be widely adopted by major carriers. There are still questions regarding added weight and other potential problems related to obstructions and emergency evacuations.

Are Smart Seats the Best Way for Airlines to Improve the Passenger Experience?

A flight doesn’t have to leave you feeling restless. Smart seats have the potential to help redefine the passenger experience. Imagine getting all the legroom you need, a comfortable place to rest your head, and adjustable seating the fits any body type.

Rosen Aviation is committed to making cabins more comfortable with cutting-edge technological solutions. We design the best in luxury aircraft interior features using decades of aviation industry expertise and precise engineering.

Call Rosen Aviation today at 888-668-4955 to improve your passengers’ cabin experience.