Airbus’ newest planes fight jetlag with LED trickery and more humidity

Most airplane design improvements focus on enhancements to either safety or passenger comfort, but a new line of Airbus jets has done a little bit of both. Believe it or not, the company’s latest aircraft line is specifically designed to alleviate the effects of jet lag. The new line of A350 XWB jets cost Airbus a $15 billion investment, and the planes are already headed to the skies as part of Qatar Airways’ international fleet.

The effects of jet lag are exacerbated when the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle doesn’t match up with the sunrise and sunset hours of your surroundings. Biologically, the body produces more of a hormone called melatonin when the sun goes down in order to cue sleepiness. Many hours spent in a pressurized cabin without natural light can throw off that natural circadian rhythm. And of course, so can waking up in a new city in the dark of night when your body thinks it’s lunchtime.

To mitigate jet lag, Airbus equipped the A350 XWB with a few new updates. The first lines the passenger cabin with panels of LED lighting that can make subtle or drastic changes to the ambient color temperature. With up to 16.7 million light settings to choose from, the system can easily switch from the cool tones of dawn or dusk to a warmer daylight setting. The LED system is programmable to cycle through based on flight duration or in relation to the time zones that the plane is passing through.

Airbus’ new jets also feature a frame made of plastic reinforced with carbon fiber, which is a more lightweight solution than has been used in the past. Other than boosting fuel-efficiency, the reinforced plastic jet frame is less susceptible to corrosion than traditional aluminum. Cutting out the risk of corrosion makes moisture a less risky option in the plane. That way, the cabin can be pressurized to 6,000 feet instead of 8,000 feet, keeping humidity levels higher for passenger comfort.

Even if not all researchers agree that high cabin pressure and low environmental humidity makes jet lag worse, more moisture will make for a more pleasant flight. On the A350 XWB, seats are also about an inch wider than the standard in economy class, and a new wing design reduces ambient noise. Qatar Airways services routes between the US, Asia, and Europe, which can rack up in-flight hours quickly and leave travelers with painful jet lag symptoms. Airbus hasn’t released official measures of jet lag reduction in passengers yet, but most frequent fliers can probably agree that any little bit helps.

Emerging Tech

It’s no flying car, but the e-scooter had a huge impact on city streets in 2018

Within just a year, electric scooters have fundamentally changed how we navigate cities. From San Francisco to Paris, commuters have a new option that’s more fun than mass transit, easier than a bike, and definitely not a car.
Product Review

The 2019 Porsche Macan S is a luxurious and quick SUV, but it's no road tripper

The roster of models challenging the Porsche Macan grows annually. The German firm updated its smallest, most affordable SUV with a new engine, more tech features, and subtle design tweaks to keep it looking fresh.
Outdoors

Conquer the cold season with the best heated clothing and outdoor apparel

If you're thinking about going outside this winter, heated apparel is a must. Luckily, we've rounded up some of the best heated clothing, whether you're looking for battery-powered gloves or heated insoles.
Product Review

Audi built an electric SUV for buyers who want gasoline-free to mean stress-free

We finally got to spend time behind the wheel of the electric 2019 Audi E-Tron bustling cities and arid desert of the United Arab Emirates to see how it compares with Jaguar and Tesla's competitors.
Home Theater

The best noise-canceling headphones paint your music on a cleaner canvas

Drowning out the sound of babies, jet engines, and the outside world isn't as hard as it seems. Here are the best noise-canceling headphones, whether you're concerned with style, comfort, or sound.
Emerging Tech

Intel wants its fleet of drones to monitor America’s aging, unsafe bridges

Intel has signed a deal to use its Falcon 8+ drones to carry out bridge inspections. The hope is that these drones will be useful in spotting potential problems before they become serious.
Giveaways

Print your heart’s desire: Enter our giveaway to win a free Monoprice 3D printer

We’re giving away a $400 Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer. It's easy to use, especially for beginners, with its simple menu system and touchscreen display. It comes fully assembled so you can spend more time printing instead of setting up.
Emerging Tech

Transplanted pig hearts show promise in baboon trials. Are humans next?

Researchers in Germany have successfully transplanted modified pig hearts into baboons. The results take us one step closer to ending organ transplant waiting lists for good. Here's why.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.
Emerging Tech

Makerbot is back with a new 3D printer that’s faster and more precise than ever

MakerBot's new Method 3D printer aims to bridge the gap between home 3D printers and more industrial 3D printing tech. Here are a few of the tantalizing things you can expect from it.
Emerging Tech

Warm ski beanie instantly hardens into a head-protecting helmet upon impact

Wool hats are way more comfortable than hard helmets. You know what they're not? Safer. That could soon change, thanks to an innovative new ski beanie which instantly hardens upon impact.
Deals

Take to the skies with these 5 drones on sale for under $50

On the hunt for some cool tech for under $50? We've rounded up 5 drones under $50 that you can still get before Christmas. These models are great for kids, adults, and anyone just getting started with drones.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…