March 4, 2021

Move by LAYER and Airbus aims to improve the horrible economy class flight experience

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By Emily Engle From Core77

Benjamin Hubert of LAYER recently collaborated with Airbus to redesign economy class airline seating, and after flying from NYC to Portland on a very uncomfortable Alaska Airlines flight (at least Delta loads you up on cookies to numb the pain), all I have to say is: finally. Move is an app and seating prototype that gives passengers more control of their flight experience and encourages them to move throughout the flight. So in true traveling fashion, let’s unpack the details.

The seating itself is consists of a lightweight perforated frame made from aircraft grade aluminum and carbon fiber that reduces the on-board weight of the aircraft. On top of the frame rests a one piece digitally knitted polyester wool blend sling that includes integrated conductive yarn within the knit. 

The knit seat cover features zones of various density that offer customized levels of support to the body and automatically adjust throughout the flight based on weight and movement. This is made possible by passing current through the conductive yarn to vary the seat tension.  

Passengers can also turn to the accompanying Move App, which when connected with the smart textiles is what gives passengers control over factors we often relinquish to the Airline Gods–like seat tension, temperature, pressure and movement. Passengers can also select presets like “massage”, “mealtime”, or “sleep”. 

Airline Gods: I promise I’ll stop kicking the seat in front of me if you give my next three-hour domestic flight massage functions.

 According to LAYER, each passenger’s data is monitored through the smart textiles and then analyzed by the Move App, which then “sends targeted messages to the passenger encouraging them to move in order to improve comfort. These messages include prompts to get up and move around the cabin to improve circulation, when and how to do in-seat stretches, and reminders to stay hydrated to regulate temperature.” 

On a more design minutiae note, other issues the Move system addresses include:

A fixed seating position, which addresses a lack of legroom range caused by passengers unnecessarily reclining on shorter flights. Why recline when you can control the tension of your seat and understand how to attain inflight bliss through an app? 

The digitally knitted seat cover reduces the amount of less-sustainable foam materials and increases the ability of airlines to easily change or update color or pattern, as well as wash the material during cabin changeover. This is actually a pretty big deal, considering my flight the other day had carpet on the walls. I repeat: carpet on the walls.

The tray table is stowed vertically, is height adjustable and can act as a surface on which to rest while sleeping.

Laptop storage is located between the seats, and The Move app notifies passengers if they have left a device in the pocket after landing through pressure sensitive yarn.

The armrests are completely stow-able, offering the option of a bench-like seating if you’re, you know, into that.

Next time I take a domestic flight that doesn’t include cookies and massage functions, I’m flipping the tray table.

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