This airplane seat monitors your heart rate and stress levels while you fly

In this image released on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, is the Avital pilot seat. ACM Aerospace (Aircraft Cabin Modification GmbH) presents a new sensor technology for seats with Avital, which measures the ECG values of the occupants without the need for wiring. Not only are health problems detected in real time, but also signs of exhaustion and stress in the pilot. This means that any necessary countermeasures can be taken in good time. This world first also earned ACM Aerospace a nomination for the prestigious Crystal Cabin Award 2021. Press release and media available to download at www.apmultimedianewsroom.com/newsaktuell. HANDOUT IMAGE - please refer to special instructions. (Aircraft Cabin Modification GmbH/news aktuell via AP Images)
The seat can inform flight attendants when a dangerous event might happen (Picture: AP)

Each year, hundreds of airline passengers experience some sort of heart trouble while mid-air.

Attracting the attention of an airline steward can be tricky at the best of times, let alone for a medical emergency that require urgent treatment.

But a German company thinks it’s come up with a solution – seats that monitor your heart rate in real-time.

The seat-embedded sensors are supposedly capable of measuring your heartbeat without any need for skin contact or wiring, and can check the recordings against a database of known recordings to warn of an impending problem.

Avital is the brainchild of ACM Aerospace, and foresees its technology being used on both passengers and pilots, looking out for health problems like exhaustion and stress.

Though taking echocardiograms (ECG), the most common type of heart scan, is the prime goal of Avital, the technology can also monitor for when a pilot is tired, and signal for a co-pilot to takeover.

In this image released on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, is an illustration of the Avital pilot seat. ACM Aerospace (Aircraft Cabin Modification GmbH) presents a new sensor technology for seats with Avital, which measures the ECG values of the occupants without the need for wiring. Not only are health problems detected in real time, but also signs of exhaustion and stress in the pilot. This means that any necessary countermeasures can be taken in good time. This world first also earned ACM Aerospace a nomination for the prestigious Crystal Cabin Award 2021. Press release and media available to download at www.apmultimedianewsroom.com/newsaktuell. HANDOUT IMAGE - please refer to special instructions. (Aircraft Cabin Modification GmbH/news aktuell via AP Images)
The seat’s sensors can detect both heartrate and breathing speed (Picture: AP)

A 2013 study found that, in just the US, 38 people experienced cardiac arrest while in the air, over a three-year period. If you take that number into account for the entire world, there’s likely hundreds of cardiac episodes in the skies each year.

With many medical emergencies, heart problems included, early detection is key to successful treatment.

‘As soon as any abnormalities occur, it is possible to initiate medical examinations in good time and avoid serious illnesses,’ said ACM Aerospace Managing Director Roger Hohl.

Taking readings over the duration of the flight can also give better long-term analysis than a quick snapshot.

In this image released on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, is a diagram of the Avital System. ACM Aerospace (Aircraft Cabin Modification GmbH) presents a new sensor technology for seats with Avital, which measures the ECG values of the occupants without the need for wiring. Not only are health problems detected in real time, but also signs of exhaustion and stress in the pilot. This means that any necessary countermeasures can be taken in good time. This world first also earned ACM Aerospace a nomination for the prestigious Crystal Cabin Award 2021. Press release and media available to download at www.apmultimedianewsroom.com/newsaktuell. HANDOUT IMAGE - please refer to special instructions. (Aircraft Cabin Modification GmbH/news aktuell via AP Images)
The sensors can compare readings to a database of known dangerous events (Picture: AP)

The technology powering Avital consists of capacitive sensors, similar to the ones that power the touchscreen in your phone, embedded into the fabric of the seat back and surface.

Able to take readings through a person’s clothes, the sensors can read the speed and ‘variability’ of a passenger’s heart rate, as well as other variables like breathing rate.

It’s not the first time the idea of heart-monitoring flight seats has come up – in 2017, Dutch airline KLM teamed up with Delft University of Technology students to create FlightBeat, a pilot project to detect when passengers were stressed, nervous or experiencing cardiac problems.

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