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Layer x Airbus: Using smart textiles to improve the travel experience

Strategic design agency LAYER has collaborated with Airbus on a new concept for economy class seating that uses smart textiles for personalised comfort and wellbeing. The prototype concept, Move, enables aeroplane passengers to monitor and control factors such as seat tension, pressure and temperature, through a corresponding app, and sends prompts to their phone when it is time to move around the cabin. The app can also guide users through in-seat stretches, and remind them to hydrate regularly.

The concept is named for its purpose: to encourage passengers to move more regularly throughout short to mid-haul flying experiences, in order to improve health and wellbeing. The textile seat cover is digitally knitted and suspended over a lightweight perforated composite frame. It features integrated conductive yarn which connect to a series of sensors, and can be activated into different seat modes by the user, including ‘massage’, ‘mealtime’ and ‘sleep’.

As the seat can’t recline, the personalisation elements of the smart textile are key to ensuring passenger comfort and contentment through the flight. The pressure-sensitive yarn is not only able to monitor its user’s weight and distribution, but also to sense if a laptop is left behind on departure, which it can then notify passengers to return for via the Move app.

The concept is also beneficial to the airline, enabling weight to be reduced and fuel efficiency therefore increased thanks to its lightweight design, and improving the ease with which airlines can change and update seats, as it’s an easily removable cover.

“At LAYER, we believe good design should be accessible to all,” says Benjamin Hubert, founder of LAYER. “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.”

Images shown with the consent of Airbus.

Move is one of an early wave of new concepts bringing smart textiles into consumer use. For more information on the rise of the Internet of Fibres – and the implications and applications of fibre computing across design and lifestyle – WGSN subscribers can read our forecast, Future Innovations 2021.

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