For those who travel a lot you know the one lonely bit of comfort you can control on a plane is the air vent above your seat. And by control, generally that means on or off. Someday soon however, you might feel greater comfort as researchers have been looking at ways to redesign seats to allow for individual climate control.
Inspired by the type of control and options users have with the comfort of their seats in cars, the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics has been exploring ways to make it work for airline seats.
Core to the plan is changing how we get/feel fresh air in our seats. New seats would have air inlets in the armrests and back of seats that are moderated so users can't see or hear the airflow. The seats would have humidity controls so that the built in air doesn't leave you feeling dry — unless you want it that way.
As if that wasn't enough, researchers say the new seats will have built in heaters just like your car, and ventilation that wicks moisture away from the body. No more struggling to stay warm under that scrap of a blanket they hand out — the combination of ventilation and humidity and heat control will leave you caressed and as carefree as if upon a cloud.
Ok, that might be a stretch since the researchers can't do anything about lack of legroom, storage or the person kicking your seat from behind, but it's a start.
According to a release from Fraunhofer, they've moved past the experimental phase where they worked to determine placement and comfort levels associated with airflow and they are now in the live testing phase that involves simulations in a tube that mimics the conditions and cabin air pressure found in real flights. Testing in-flight is scheduled to happen soon.
Just knowing that someone is thinking about our comfort is a nice thought. How soon a system could be put in place and at what cost to the airlines (then passed on to the consumer), is a giant question mark.
If it turns out to be like those seats with more legroom where you have to pay to play, would you pay for your own climate controlled seat?