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Three Cool things From the Aircraft Interiors Expo

I had the chance to spend a day at the first running of the Aircraft Interiors Expo in the US this week, and I have to say, it was pretty interesting. I mean, it’s not all glitz and glamour as you might expect. Sure, there was a red carpet there, but . . . ok, maybe not.

When people think of aircraft interiors, they probably think of cool seats, but there’s a lot more than that. They have fasteners, carpets, and everything else to comes together to make up the interior experience. So as you can imagine, a lot of this would be boring to those not working in the industry (and probably boring for them as well), but there were a couple of cool products I saw that I thought might catch your interest.

aerokid – integrated infant/child seat
Parents will love this one. Lufthansa Technik has come up with a built-in child seat for aircraft. aerokidIf there’s no kid in the seat, it looks nearly like any other seat. But if there’s a child, it folds down to reveal a fully functional child seat that also expands into a bed, like a bassinet.

So with this, you won’t have to lug that bulky seat through the terminal to take to the plane. This is a brand new product, and nobody has committed to it yet, but I think it’s got some potential. Sure there are issues. I mean, how do you accurately predict how many you would need on a plane? You can never get it right, but you can certainly improve the travel experience for some. We’ll see if anyone is willing to give it a shot.

Relaxor in-seat massage
I had a lot of fun talking to these guys at the show. First of all, I think it’s clear they should not go into aircraft seat decoration.Relaxor massage Can you imagine an entire plane with leopard-printed seats? Yikes. But hey, it caught my attention, and that’s what they wanted.

These guys focus on in-seat massage. They’ve got units in seats in premium classes on a few airlines (eg Emirates, Etihad, etc), but nobody has put it in the back yet. And is that really a surprise? Nah. But maybe one airline will decide that they can get people to pay for it, so they will. Sounds like one of those coin-operated bed massages in cheap motels. All I know is that it felt good, and it probably helps with blood flow on those long flights. I doubt we’ll see it onboard anytime soon, though I’d like to be pleasantly surprised.

Nintendo Travel Network
If you’ve ever been to a Seattle Mariners game, you might have seen something like this in the Nintendo Fan Network. Nintendo Travel NetworkThe idea is that you would download the Travel Network on to your DS. It will stay there until you turn the unit off at which point it would disappear and you’d have to reload. The airline would put a server on their aircraft that would allow anyone with a Nintendo DS portable video game system to interact with it. It could display the time left in-flight along with a map, it could allow you to stream movies, or it could even let you shop.

Nintendo says they have 75 million DS units out there, so there could be plenty of usage opportunities. I worried about the size and weight of the server, but they said it could be as simple as another DS broadcasting the information. This seems like a pretty easy way for an airline to enable a wide variety of inflight entertainment without having to invest much in the product. Of course, most of the people who own the DS aren’t likely your most frequent fliers, but it’s still a fun thing to think about.

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