Premium economy passengers could soon sleep better on flights thanks to a clever new seat called Interspace by British design studio Universal Movement. Emily Eastman reports

Innovations in the economy and premium economy cabin and few and far between, often overlooked in favour of developments in higher-class sections of the aircraft. But Universal Movement, the British company launched by New Territory to focus on innovation in high-density travel, is working to change that – chiefly with its new folding seat.

Dubbed the “Origami” seat due to its folding design, Interspace features two wings within the seat-back that can be folded out on both sides, providing a place for weary passengers to lean on and creating a privacy barrier between seats.Universal Movement Interspace seatThe wings are designed for comfort, with padding and lateral support to prevent movement. They’re also removable, making them easy to wash. Head rests, meanwhile, have been removed to allow space for the panels but the overall height of the seat has been increased to provide support.

The design – which is officially called Interspace Comfort System – was unveiled at RedCabin’s Aircraft Cabin Innovation Summit in December.

Luke Miles, founder and chief creative officer at New Territory, told Fast Company: “When we travel, [we] always keep our eyes open. I’ve watched people stuffing cushions between their seat and the side wall, to create some sort of support mechanism… we were like, ‘Okay, this is something that needs to be addressed’.”Universal Movement Interspace seat The team is currently in talks with several airlines regarding potential retrofits for existing airliners. It would mean a marked improvement for coach class travellers, who have been forced to seat with their back straight and feet on the floor, which feels unnatural. (A dedicated economy seat design is tipped to be coming soon as well.)Universal Movement Interspace seatNew Territory has said that this is just the first iteration of the design. Future versions could feature speakers embedded in the panels for an immersive entertainment experience, as well as screens with built-in facial recognition that would turn off when you fall asleep. Tray tables could also be clipped on during meals times to allow a little extra space when not eating.

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