Sleeping in a cramped, upright airline seat is a unique form of torture, but Boeing has an idea that could one day fix that. A recent patent from the company reveals a "sleep support system" that unfolds into a pseudo massage table with a "a face relief aperture." The device is built into "backpack" that can be stowed under an airline seat. After you take out the backpack, you open it up and unfold the head rest. Support straps then connect to the top of your seat, so you can lean forward and sleep face down, with your weight supported by the system. The angle of the headrest and torso supports are adjustable, according to the patent filing. There's even a "sling" around the back that you can slip your arms into so that they, too, are supported.
The system certainly sounds like it could help you get some rest, but there are some problems with this idea. Firstly, storing hundreds of these backpacks on board is going to be a major issue. Even if they do fit under the seat, will everyone want to sacrifice their legroom to accommodate the device? There's also a sanitary concern — there will definitely need to be some sort of disposable cover that goes over the head rest. And, of course, since this is just a patent, there's no guarantee Boeing will ever make such a product. But that doesn't mean we won't keep dreaming of a day when we can actually sleep on a plane.