Hammock-Style Headrest Is the Perfect Companion for a Long Flight

Flying coach (as most of us do) can be an uncomfortable way travel, but many designers are hard at work crafting ways to make the experience more bearable. Take Dutch industrial designer Manon Kühne and her creation, HeadRest. The device sits on the back of a standard airline seat and folds out with two wings that form a small hammock where you can place your weary head. It also features two supports on both ends to offer additional privacy, and a way to keep your noggin from tipping over onto your seatmate’s shoulder. Kühne designed HeadRest with the idea of making economy class a better place for travelers.

HeadRest was Kühne's thesis project at the Netherlands' Delft University of Technology, where she’s a recent graduate. She created it with Zodiac Aerospace’s Human Factors and Ergonomics Lab, which owns the rights to the prototype and, as WIRED noted, will probably take it to airlines that could install HeadRest on commercial flight seats in the future. During the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Germany this year, Kühne also won a Crystal Cabin Award, which is the only international award for excellence in aircraft interior innovation.

[h/t Boing Boing]

Courtesy of Flightradar24.com
Aircraft Tracker Visualizes One of the Busiest Days Ever in Air Travel
Courtesy of Flightradar24.com
Courtesy of Flightradar24.com

The skies look a lot more crowded today than they did a century ago. At any given moment, there are 9700 airplanes traveling through the air on average. Saturday, June 30 was an especially busy day for air travelers: Flightradar24 recorded 202,157 flights, the most the flight-tracking app has ever documented in a single day.

Since 2006, people have used Flightradar24 to see visualizations of aircraft making trips around the world. Each tiny yellow plane depicted on their map uses data from airlines and airports, and users can click the icons to learn the route, model, speed, altitude, and departure and arrival time of each craft.

Another way to use the app is to take in all the visual information at once. The sped-up GIF below from Flightradar24 gives you an idea of just how densely-packed the skies were that day, with thousands of planes swarming to and from the planet's most populous areas.

Commercial flight data is more accessible to the public than many people realize. To build their real-time maps, Flightradar24 uses radar, ADS-B (the technology planes use to broadcast their location), and MLAT (a method used to calculate the position of planes by measuring the time it takes them to receive a signal). To get an even more detailed scoop on the status of an airplane, you can tune into the live feed of a specific airport's air traffic control channel.

The Secret to a More Pleasant Flight? Urinals

Even if you can deal with the lack of legroom, privacy, and decent meal options on airplanes, your patience may start to wear thin when it comes time to pee. Being stuck waiting in long bathroom lines on planes may feel like one of life's unavoidable annoyances, but according to WIRED, there's a way to make the experience more tolerable. The secret involves urinals and a bit of math.

At last month's Crystal Cabin Awards, a competition that recognizes innovation in aircraft interiors, Zodiac Aerospace introduced the Durinal, a two-urinal plane bathroom that takes the place of one toilet. Replacing a bathroom that serves all passengers with one that's made for only half the population may seem like a quick way to make the long-line problem worse, but there's some logic behind the proposed solution.

As Wouter Rogiest, a mathematician at Ghent University in Belgium, tells WIRED, gender-neutral bathroom lines are shortest when men have the option to head straight for a urinal. That's because it's quicker to use a urinal than a stall, and when men opt for the urinal, it frees up stalls for women. When he drew up an equation looking at hypothetical bathroom wait times at a concert, he found that a ratio of 14 toilets to eight urinals produced the most desirable wait times: one minute, 27 seconds for women and slightly under a minute for men. On a commercial plane, this ratio would come out to one or two Durinals per six conventional bathrooms.

Rogiest's concert equation isn't a perfect stand-in for airplane scenarios, so a more specific study would be needed before airlines could consider installing urinals. Unfortunately, if bathrooms with urinals do show up on airplanes, you can expect the spaces to be just as tight as they are now.

[h/t WIRED]


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