An airline cabin concept designed to monitor passengers’ health and behaviour, which could be used in future to counter deep vein thrombosis and ‘air rage’, will be unveiled next week at the Farnborough Air Show (22-28 July).
Developed alongside Virgin Atlantic Airways, by QinetiQ, the privatised arm of the Government’s defence research agency, the design features ‘sensing chairs’ and an ‘intellige
nt’ lighting system that adapts according to the ‘circadian rhythms of passengers’. Both enhancements can greatly improve comfort and security on board, claims a QinetiQ spokesman.
Data ‘harvested’ from the seat can be used by the cabin crew to check whether the passenger is dangerously immobile and at risk of the blood clots that can cause DVT or unusually agitated and likely to pose a possible ‘air rage’ or even terrorist threat, says QinetiQ senior product designer Chris Thorpe.
This information can also be displayed in real time to the passengers themselves, so they can monitor their own condition, he adds.
The seat incorporates a ‘matrix of powder-formulated patches’ linked to electronic sensors that detect a passenger’s movement, says Thorpe. By noting the position of the head, it is possible to determine whether an individual is asleep, he adds.
The ‘sensing chair’, made from composite carbon fibre, is part of a ‘minimal look’ interiors concept intended to challenge the conventions of airline cabin design, says Thorpe, who insists QinetiQ’s work is not just about product design.
He adds, ‘We’re trying to create a passenger-centred experience and environment. There’s been a paradigm shift [in airline cabin design], a move from public to private notions of furniture in keeping with modern domestic designs.’
Virgin Atlantic industrial design manager Joe Ferry says, ‘Product differentiation is a necessity for any airline wishing to maintain competitive advantage. The future of interior cabin design and development depends on the integration of new technologies with manufacturers of aerospace products.’