SmartTray: Sometimes It’s the Simplest Things That Grab Your Attention

I had been meaning to write about this after I met with the company at the APEX show back in September, but I never quite got around to it until now. At APEX, there were a lot of companies showing off the newest and coolest things to go on to an airplane. But there were also some at the other end of the spectrum.

Meet SmartTray. The company’s flagship product is the X1. If you’re going to take the name of the first airplane used to break the sound barrier, you’d better have some crazy, earth-shattering new idea, right? Well, not quite. Behold, the SmartTray X1:

SmartTray X1

That’s right. It’s a regular tray table… with a slit in it for you to put your tablet. That’s it. Oh sure, there is some engineering in here. There is a small track inside the slot, so if you use one of the cheap plastic covers shown in the picture, it’ll lock in. (The company sees this as an opportunity for airlines to sell sponsorships.) But other than that, it’s a tray table with a slit in it.

The simple beauty of this thing is that it costs an airline the same as a regular tray table but it has that little bit of extra utility to make it easier for passengers to use a tablet in flight. For that reason, you might think we’d see this in the air already. But no. The company is very close to announcing an order, but then again, who hasn’t heard that before?

Of course, SmartTray isn’t happy with just a simple solution, so it has created some more complex ones as well. The X2 is a built-in tablet holder that lets you watch the screen with the table open or closed. It’s hard to explain the system very well without a visual, so here’s a video I took at APEX (and yes, they have versions that adjust to every size tablet):

But wait, there’s more. The X3 is basically the same thing except the tablet is provided by the airline and is not removable from the tray. (Though something tells me that some enterprising person will figure out how to walk away with the entire tray table…)

Really for me, however, it’s the X1 that caught my attention because of its simplicity. With all the bells and whistles out there, it’s kind of nice to remember that even basic, inexpensive things can make a difference in the passenger experience.

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