THE MAGIC OF CONDUCTIVE THREAD
The London-based design firm Layer has created a prototype seat that's knitted with conductive thread. During a plane ride, electrical currents pass through the thread, altering the firmness of different parts of the seat, based on the sitter's weight, size, and movements. Think of it as automated ergonomics. Through an app, the passenger can further adjust the seat, making it softer or firmer and even hotter or cooler.
The conductive thread can also track how someone is sitting over time. In the concept Layer produced, passengers download an app that gives them recommendations for how to get comfortable in their seat. For instance, the app might send you a notification if it sees that you've sat in a contorted position for too long, reminding you to get up and move around the cabin or drink more water. It will also guide you through in-seat stretches.
For Benjamin Hubert, founder of Layer, the design is meant to help people who might feel their body hurting, but don't know how to address it. "They know they're uncomfortable, but they might not know why," he says. "The insight is informing passengers about what they're doing in their seats, how it relates to ergonomics, comfort, and exercise, and putting those two bits of information together, it can coach you to sit better and to exercise more."