This head hammock aims to make travel more "comfortable"

6 pictures

The NodPod comprises cords that slip over the rear of a seat or headrest to secure a support upon which the user rests her chin

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There is perhaps no greater affirmation of the lengths to which we will go for sleep as the evolution of the humble travel pillow. The Ostrich Pillow and the Woollip are among the greats where sacrificing dignity for dozing is concerned, but the new NodPod must be commended for its radical "head hammock" approach.

The NodPod was created by Paula Blankenship after years of struggling to sleep during long journeys for work. It's certainly a fresh take on the travel-sleep-aid front — maybe even an effective one — but it does have us wondering if we've maybe gone a little too far in our quest to find a way to sleep while sitting.

There's a solid concept and reasoning behind the design, mind you. It's aimed at keeping the user's head upright and straight, with a view to minimizing neck and body pain caused by sleeping with your head at a funny angle. It could also help to eradicate waking suddenly as a result of the dreaded "nod" when you find you've been drooling on a stranger's shoulder. So kudos there.

We would venture, however, that, in its current guise at least, the NodPod could perhaps do with a little softening on the looks front. It essentially comprises a memory foam support upon which the user rests their chin and some cords that slip over rear of seat and headrest to secure the support in place.

This will, admittedly, have the benefit of keeping your drooling mouth shut, but the NodPod is not the most elegant looking of solutions. There's very much a "prisoner restraint vibe" going on, with only a couple of matching wrist ties missing to complete the look.

Although the cords are configured in such a way as to not obstruct a screen in the rear of the user's seat for the passenger behind, we're also not convinced that this wouldn't be entirely unobtrusive. And messing with any seat real estate that basically belongs to another passenger is always a risky proposition. There's also the chance that the cords could be interfered with from behind, with the potential for a yank from an inquisitive child (or someone wanting to stop your snores) causing an alarming wake-up call.

A breakaway clip built into the cords is designed to become undone in the event of a sudden impact. If you're on a plane, the clip may prove irrelevant, but on a coach, say, it could help to ensure that your head remains attached to your body. Quite how effective it is and to what extent it fulfills any safety regulations is unclear, but at least safety has been taken into account.

On the whole, the idea surely has legs, as an enthusiastic response to a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign has so far shown. Call us self-conscious, but we'd probably feel a little conspicuous using the NodPod and we'd like to see the design refined a little, but then, if it gets you to sleep on a red-eye, who's complaining?

At the time of writing, Kickstarter pledges from US$30 can receive a NodPod, assuming all goes according to plan with the device's development. Shipping is expected from October.

The video below is the Kickstarter pitch for the NodPod.

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