Huemen teamed up with aerospace company, Thales (th-ales), to create the InFlyt Generation 6, a passenger entertainment device with a superior design that meets the standards of Thales’ passengers.
The InFlyt Generation 6 needed to improve upon the previous Thales Generation 5 InFlyt. Our designers found that the Generation 5 was too big for next-gen aircraft equipped with more seats and narrower seatbacks. Additionally, not all high-wear components could be easily replaced by a service technician. The light-emitting ports also required an update, as customers were experiencing uneven USB and headphone port lighting issues. With these challenges in mind, we were ready to give the InFlyt a next-gen upgrade.
Our designers met with the Thales Avionics Team in Orange County, CA, to understand Thales’ product development and general design guidelines.
Our biggest takeaway from this meeting: the device’s viability hinged on passing the Head Impact Collision (HIC) test. This criterion helped guide us as we designed and produced a new seatback entertainment system.
Throughout the research and design process our team created three different themes. Each theme came with its own inspiration based on motion, material, and texture.
Theme 1: Edge Edge is meant to accentuate the optimized size and weight. We reduced the Input/Output (I/O) panel to an essential size, while still maintaining a sense of scale and screen immersion, with a panel that fades into a flush surface. We pivoted from light emitting ports to architecture-inspired “bath lighting,” where the light source is above the ports, to address hot spotting issues. Additionally, the downward lighting is subtler, allowing passengers to better enjoy their on-screen content.
Theme 2: Grain Grain presents subtle texture at the bottom of the interface. This theme is more simplistic and focuses on a small shift in texture between the screen and the I/O. Service parts would load in from the back, and ports would poke through the front face, simplifying the replacement assembly of the electronics through a small portion of the rear panel.
Theme 3: Metallicity Metallicity plays on asymmetrical highlights that form when bending foil. This design begins on the left and right sides of the I/O panel. These peripheral highlights invite the passenger’s eye toward the controls. Initial concepts showed a localized bath light over the ports, but was then expanded into a wider, more symmetrical layout for a balanced presentation.
In the end, we decided to implement our Metallicity theme, as it fit best with our visual design needs and best took servicing needs into account.
Thales’ InFlyt Gen6 needed to clearly demonstrate a reduction in weight and size, improved serviceability, and elimination of lighting issues. We used these goals as focus points for the main framework of our ideation.
Working with the Thales technical team, we reduced the radius of each corner on the display to make the enclosure hug the internal components as tightly as possible while still being able to pass the Head Impact Collision Test.
We minimized the I/O panel to the essential footprint size to optimize the weight and act as a subtle visual target for technicians during service. The screws were placed behind the unit to make replacement easier and eliminate the risk of the technician’s power tools inadvertently scratching any passenger-facing surfaces.
Shifting from light emitting ports to a bath light eliminated hotspot-riddled ports. Hiding the light source from the passenger’s line of sight allows them to focus on the panel, without any distracting stray light.
The new InFlyt Gen 6 is narrower, shorter, and lighter; free of hotspot lighting issues; and resolves over a third of technician pain points.
The design features a slimmer size and weight, optimized for the new backseats on the aircraft. While the original design only provided a headphone jack, we added USB-C, USB-A, Power, DND, bath light, and Captouch power.
All these new features and improvements mean Thales can offer an industry leading in-flight experience for their airline customers. Passengers can now enjoy their travel with seamless entertainment, lighting, power, and connectivity.
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