British researchers working on smart seat

From the "uh, right" files comes a story from the New York Times about a group of researchers in Farnborough, England company called QinetiQ that are working on an airline seat full of sensors.

The seat is designed to tell the crew about passengers who haven't moved, and therefore may be at risk for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), a potentially life- threatening condition whereby blood clots in the leg move to the heart or brain.

Researchers also believe that they can use the seats to determine which passengers are uncharacteristically fidgety and therefore under stress, such as might be caused by a fear of flying or an impending terrorist attack. Either of these possibilities would warrant special attention by the cabin crew.

Almost as interesting is the company itself. QinetiQ is a research company established by the UK Ministry of Defense in partnership with private industry (including a 33.8% stake by The Carlyle Group).

Originally envisioned in 1998 as a suggested Public/Private Partnership (known as a PPP in the UK), the company assumed its current form in 2002 with the investment by The Carlyle Group and with the spin out of the UK's Defence Evaluation and Research Agency from the Ministry of Defense.

The company has a deep research staff (8,000 scientists) and is doing research in a large number of areas, including: space, basic research, crime (fighting and investigation, not perpetrating), sensor, software, and just about everything else.

If you want to see some of the diversity, check out their News Releases page, it's pretty impressive.