In the future, your plane seat will know when you nod off

Your plane seat will soon know when you nod off

At the Paris Air Show, airline seat manufacturer Thales has been showing off a prototype for a business class seat that knows when its occupant falls asleep.

The design uses iris-tracking technology to detect whether your eyes are open or closed, or just if you're looking away from the screen for a moment. That means that your in-flight entertainment system could pause your movie or turn the screen off if you fall asleep while watching.

"The eye-tracking technology actually came from the handicapped market, and we've reapplied it to airlines," said Brett Bleacher, director of innovations for Thales. However he admitted the technology is still undergoing testing and that it'll be five to ten years before it's installed in plane cabins. "We are just starting to build relationships with airliners to get this into production," he said.

Mile High Snooze

That information might be of interest to the airline too - working out which movies are more or less popular, and adjusting available content accordingly. But alongside that comes the risk that airlines might try to use the data to more effectively "encourage" passengers to spend money on board the plane.

"Ancillary revenue from selling tickets or teaming up with hotels and rental companies has become a huge and growing part of airline revenue," said Scott Easterling, director of in-flight entertainment for Thales.

Duncan Geere
Duncan Geere is TechRadar's science writer. Every day he finds the most interesting science news and explains why you should care. You can read more of his stories here, and you can find him on Twitter under the handle @duncangeere.