June 30, 2014 -- Ask the average traveler what his or her mood is like while flying, and you might expect to hear "agitated," "frustrated" or just plain "annoyed."
But on a recent British Airways flight from London to New York, passengers were fitted with wearable technology that measured brainwave patterns and used neurosensors to capture the passengers' moods in fiber-optic blankets. Dubbed the "happiness blanket," it turned colors: red for tense and blue for calm.
The airline said it hopes that monitoring a person's sleep and relaxation patterns will improve inflight service. For example, blankets often turned blue during meal and drink service, indicating a level of relaxation among passengers at that time. The blankets could potentially even change the kind of entertainment offered inflight. The color of blankets changed depending on what the passenger was watching: A thriller won't have the same effect as a comedy.
At the core of the "happiness blanket" experiment is sleep, specifically, how to make sure it's customers arrive at their destinations rested, and also to tout the airline's lie-flat, business class seats.
Volunteers wore a special headband, called a Myndplay headset, used to measure meditative state. This is then relayed via Bluetooth to LED lights woven into the blanket, which range from 1 to 100. The higher the number, the calmer the passenger.