Is this tangled mass of limbs the future of flight?
Wired's Jordan Golson spotted this horrifying patent from Zodiac Seat France. It imagines a future in which the legs and arms of strangers on a connecting flight to Atlanta are constantly grazing one another.
The patent claims good intentions — the idea is to "increase cabin density while also creating seat units that increase the space available at the shoulder and arm area." The seats can be configured in other ways as well, though the most likely arrangement is the space-maximizing configuration seen in the drawing above.
Another angle looks like something from a future Mad Max sequel:
Of course, this is just a patent application — who knows if it will ever be implemented. It may join the dustbin of history along with more pleasant flying innovations, like a family-friendly seating arrangement and the many designs for accommodating "high percentage hip widths."
But there are a lot of scary ideas out there, too — and not just the proposals for standing-room-only flights. This 1998 patent, intended for long flights, shows an arrangement where your fellow passengers are constantly hovering over your head.
Still, most of these ideas probably won't happen, so don't be too fearful of 12 hours of knee-on-knee contact. Instead, dream about the future.
After all, in 1995, somebody patented an overhead conveyer belt for airline food: