Intelligent airline seats could automatically alert busy cabin crew to nervous, shifty passengers, who might be terrorists or air-ragers.

The seats, being designed by Qinetiq, the UK’s part-privatised defence lab, could also warn if passengers have been sitting still so long they risk developing deep vein thrombosis.

The seats will contain a thicket of pressure sensors that will relay signals to a central computer to assess the seat occupant’s behaviour. Are they asleep? Motionless for too long? Jumpy? Qinetiq designer Chris Thorpe says the system could have a display that is only accessible to the cabin crew – perhaps in the galley – to warn if a passenger’s behaviour is out of the ordinary.

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