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Reshaping the Sedentary Inflight Experience

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Sitting in a long haul flight is unhealthy and sometimes even dangerous. "Expanse" is a sensor-embedded economy aircraft seat that aims to eliminate prolonged sitting using the in-flight entertainment system (IFE) for the passenger.


“Sitting is the new smoking” has become a popular phrase to describe the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle. Previous research has shown that prolonged sitting can cause irreversible damage to the human body, including more than thirty types of chronic illnesses and acute medical issues, such as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Standing up to walk around and take breaks during long hours of sitting is one way to mitigate these health problems. However, in some cases this is not possible—the long haul flight in an economy seat requires passengers to remain seated for many hours. 


To address this problem, I researched and designed an economy passenger seating system aimed at effectively decrease the risk of DVT and reducing the overall negative impacts of sedentary air travels. The concept was developed in consultation with faculty in the UW School of Nursing. An important part of my process was the construction of full-scale prototypes to refine the ergonomic details of the seat. The design aligns with related Federal Aviation Regulation guidelines, engineering constraints, and the airline’s concern for a feasible concept. The result is an asymmetrical seat design that increases the space for body movements, while integrating a reminder system to encourage mobility.

A Combination of Different Rapid Prototyping Methods for User Research

An Iterative Prototyping Process Based on User Feedback

The Final Exhibition at the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle

Expanse received positive feedback from audiences of different backgrounds and professions. Many people asked about when this seat would be adopted by airlines.

Trivia Fact This project also helped me got my first job in the U.S. as an industrial designer for aircraft seat at Jamco America.