Business Treaveler logo

Travel news, reviews and intel for high-flyers

Patio Chair or Airline Seat? A Peek at the Airbus Economy Seat of the Future

“The Move” seeks to be the Economy Class answer to Business Class comforts.

Looking more like lawn furniture you might find under an awning, a UK-based design firm recently rolled out a prototype of what the airline seat of the future might look like.

Called “the Move,” London design firm, LAYER, has created an economy cabin seat for Airbus that looks like a seat and feels like a seat but acts like a robot with sophisticated systems of technology woven into seemingly simple fabric.

The new Airbus seat will be best used for short- and medium-haul flights and is enabled with smart sensors that allow passengers to control their seat settings via an app on their phone. Flyers will be able to work with seat temperatures and find the sweet spot for back support as sensors calculate their height and girth.

The Move, via a downloaded app, will “communicate” with occupants, telling them when to hydrate and when to stretch. The seat will even offer a massage setting.

“Throughout the journey, the Move seat automatically adjusts based on passenger weight, size and movement to maintain optimal ergonomic comfort,” said LAYER founder Benjamin Hubert in a press release. “This is made possible by passing current through the conductive yarn to vary the seat tension.”

The Move was 18 months in the making in a partnership between Airbus and Layer design. The prototype presents a lightweight perforated composite frame with a knitted, one-piece sling seat suspended over it. The digitally-knitted seat cover weaves into a smart textile with integrated conductive yarns of various densities that offer different levels of support.

The seats do not recline, rather, they “mold.”  Passengers can choose from four different “seat modes,” that wrap and adjust to the passenger’s shape without infringing on the personal space of other flyers. The Move app can respond to positioning needs, such what is needed for dining and what is needed for sleep. The seat can tell if the passenger leaves the seat, or has left something behind in the seat back pocket. The tray table, stored vertically, is height-adjustable and can be fully extended or folded in half for more seat space.

“All too often, new concepts for flying are focused on innovation in business class,” Hubert said. “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.”