One of the worst feelings in the world is eating something gnarly and needing to absolutely be alone with a bathroom for 45 minutes, praying that the gurgling sensation in your stomach will pass soon. But it won't pass -- and you're not alone. No, you're 35,000 feet in the air trapped in a metal bird while a line of passengers wearing compression socks tap their feet impatiently waiting for their turn in a cramped bathroom. The flight attendant comes to check in on you; they've observed you've been in there for a solid 33 minutes, thanks to all new technology that monitors everything passengers do -- from bathroom visits to preference in wine -- and they're concerned.
OK, this scenario is highly specific yet potentially plausible in the near-future. As a report by the Los Angeles Times explains, Airbus aircraft are getting a digital makeover that will result in data collection from passengers -- data that include how long you've been sitting with your head in your hands in the lavatory.
“It’s not a concept, it’s not a dream: It’s reality,” Airbus’ Vice President of Cabin Marketing, Ingo Wuggetzer, reportedly said at an aviation trade show in Los Angeles. This reality includes cameras outside of lavatories, so passengers can monitor how long the line is and decide whether or not they want to pause their movie to jump in the queue, as well as data revealing which aircraft bathroom gets the most foot traffic throughout the flight.
The advancements aren't only toilet-related. The new digital system will also help flight attendants monitor how many drinks passengers have had, which overhead bins might still have space to cram in that extra purse, and which window shades need to be pulled down, among other interesting -- though potentially uncomfortable -- insights.
“You can make the service more attentive,” Ronald Sweers, an Airbus cabin products director, explained, per the report. And while it's true -- it would be nice to have flight attendants know that we want Coke Zero, not Diet Coke on flights -- it's also a little bit creepy to think data from our entire journey in the air is being collected, analyzed, and used... for "efficiency"? Can I please just poop in peace?
h/t: Los Angeles Times