PDT an Astronics Company: Product Design and Development Firm in Chicago, IL

30,000 feet above

Aircraft Interiors Expo is always eye opening, giving us insight into innovations and advancements across the air travel industry. From connectivity to control, fashion to comfort, we’re in touch with what’s happening in the market as we also plan the newest innovations behind the scenes. Our trend reports throughout the year, including the latest from the Auto Shows, the Consumer Electronics Show, and the Housewares Expo, provide a glimpse into products that are delighting consumers outside of travel, and we found some of the parallels from AIX to the solutions shown at these events interesting.


As an Astronics Company, we’re working every day to provide new ideas and market-energizing solutions for the in-flight entertainment and connectivity space. Our teams have the unique ability to see this industry with fresh eyes because of our ongoing work in other industries, which provides us a holistic and deep insight into the technology, market and design trends that are poised to transform the market.


We hope you enjoy our unique view.



The Kite App, introduced in a presentation at AIX, is a prototype solution leveraging



and a chatbot that could be connected to communications networks, to allow friends to send moral support, and even anticipate fearful events, delivering personalized coping techniques like controlled breathing and mindfulness, tips in a discreet way.

“To make customers happy, you need to engage with them at every step of the journey – before and after their first trip,” said Bruce Randall, global director of travel at e-commerce software firm SAP Hybris during an AIX breakout session

This quote is also referenced in the April 10 issue of Flight Daily News

is a partnership between Airbus and Delta. They are working to enable mobile operators to provide services to passengers on the ground as well as in the air, establishing open specifications for interoperability.


the seamless air alliance

Hats off to Lufthansa on their app. Slick, helpful and easy to use. We happily were guided through our journey to AIX  with its help.

Emirates announced

of its passengers went online across its fleet in March.

over 1 million


86 percent of travelers and 92 percent of loyalty members surveyed said if they experienced a problem mid-flight that was resolved through in-app customer support, they would likely recommend that airline to friends.


securing the connected aircraft

We attended the FlightGlobal forecast session and found comments about data- and who it’s shared with and controlled by- interesting.

This topic is very relevant when looking at technologies that enable passenger profiles to move from plane to plane... and how that could possibly expand outside the cabin.


88% of people traveling for business bring their smartphone with them, and 82% also lug their laptop along.


These USB chargers are nicely tucked away, but awkward to plug into when sitting next to it.

This one is easier to plug into, but when the window-seat passenger has to visit the restroom, we’re all unplugging. This shows, though, an understanding that passengers are traveling with a lot of devices that need power. This passenger can plug in 3.

PowerLite is a modular, under seat retrofit power system. For more information,

Recaro’s power was designed to not interfere with the tray.


Norwegian’s regional carrier Widerøe and its Embraer 190-E2 is the newest aircraft. The plane was prepared for “Generation Z”,  already wired for high-speed in-flight internet service, and a high-voltage power outlet, rather than a USB port, fitted for each seat .



We outlined some characteristics of


the now generation

in our “Trends from the Consumer Electronics Show

Read it >>

Contact us >>

Beautiful brushed metal over capacitive controls and a clever combination of graphic information communication paired with capacitive touch.




Capacitive controls make cleaning easier and have a bit more longevity in high-use areas.

Front and back controls


This PCU is equipped with a flat cord... that was tested in the most rigorous form: it was given to some kids to play with. It survived.


displays and dimmable windows

Oculus Technologies’ translucent and semi-transparent mirrors deliver content in a unique way... could these be the answer to windowless planes?

Odyss, a brand of Oculus Technologies, is a device that delivers information on your journey via a unique, interactive experience and form factor.

Fokker’s Electronically Dimmable Windows block 99.96% of light.

The University of Cincinnati, in cooperation with Boeing and Live Well Collaborative, were honored in the Crystal Cabin awards for their forward-looking display concept. Will we see holographic displays like this in the future?

Acti-vision’s Smart Interactive Window is still in development, this OLED dimmer and screen offers a customizable view and entertainment delivery. Really nice.


According to Expedia.com users,


prefer a window seat  when naming a seat preference.




The Nuance V2 is Vision Systems’ newest dimmable window, reducing heat as well as light at the window darkens.

Gentex’s large area dimmable window is made with two thin window panes coated with electrically conductive coatings, separated by a thin layer of gel that darkens when a small electrical voltage is applied, and returns to a transparent a state when the direct current is removed.


virtual reality

In a parallel to what we saw at the Auto Shows this year, some exhibitors used VR to virtually walk visitors around their product offering or just draw crowds to their exhibitor space.

When virtual just isn’t the same... this virtual massage didn’t have enough reality.

We got to check out Virgin Atlantic’s new business lounge via VR. Nice.

When you’re at a show all about flight, how else would you take a break than pretending to fly? The skysupply stand featured an Icaros-developed system for visitors to try out.


Image: icaros.com


Can VR be a tool for creating passenger loyalty? Can it be used to also gather data? Some manufacturers and airlines are betting on the answers being ‘yes’.





of passengers believed that VR makes a great inflight experience, according to InflightVR.

Learn more about Inflight VR at inflight-vr.com


of passengers indicated willingness to pay for VR-powered IFE, according to InflightVR.

Learn more about Inflight VR at inflight-vr.com


of those interested in purchasing VR



Millennials make up

Inflight VR is creating a VR ecosystem for flight. The system tracks user behavior and delivers insights that can help you optimize your offering, creating invaluable data.

Skylights VR will start delivering an IMAX experience to some Air France business class passengers. The new, second-generation glasses are lighter and much higher resolution than the first version.

3D SeatMapVR is a whole new way of seat shopping- giving users a 360 degree, immersive view of the seat they’re considering booking from the comfort of home.

of U.S. males intend to purchase a Virtual Reality or Augmented Reality device, as compared to 31% of females.

Big data

airlines using big data now

In 2014, United Airlines began using the mantra of  “collect, detect and analyze” data and started offering a big data-driven shopping experience... leading to a


year-over-year revenue increase in online sales.

Japan Airlines, with IBM Japan, launched a data collection system that measures temperature on airplane components with a goal to collect data to predict technical problems,

preventing pricey flight cancellations.

Retailer Amazon has proven that personalizing shopping experiences builds loyalty and increases revenue.

Airlines can capitalize on this too.

millions of dollars each year

Southwest uses big data platform to  track fuel usage  in their Boeing planes, enabling them to spot trends, and save the airline



Identifying and targeting passengers who need additional services such as in-flight wifi or transport to or from the airport could generate billions of dollars of additional revenue.




Delta’s baggage tracking app for customers has been downloaded over

“as transformational as moving from an old nokia phone to a smartphone”


In the article ‘Making the Connection”  in AIX DailyNews Issue 3, in speaking about opportunities afforded to airlines from connected aircraft, Imarsat Aviation senior VP, strategy and business development, Frederik Van Essen, is quoted saying it’s:

“How Big Data Helps Today’s Airlines Operate.” 2017



tech poised to create more data

ARGUS MOVA is a “smart” sensing chair with embedded piezo sensors that measure a passenger’s heart rate, respiration, stress levels, and more. The company’s design framework, SENSOR PALETTE, is under development.

Inflight VR is creating a VR ecosystem for flight. The system tracks user behavior and delivers insights that can help you optimize your offering, creating invaluable data.

data creating a tailored experience

Thales’ two new IFE systems, Prestige and CORE, will use big data and machine learning technologies to deliver a personalized  passenger experience, including specifically-targeted advertising. The Prestige system will deliver an interface tailored to the passenger by demographic and psychographic characteristics.

non-electronic delighters




Airbus and Zodiac are partnering to offer a range of different cargo-container sized modules for lower deck installation, including passenger sleeping berths, meeting rooms, office desks or open space that could be usedas a lounge or play area.

good scents

Fokker Services and Rituals Cosmetics have partnered to bring a range of scents into aircraft air conditioning systems, creating a more pleasant experience through fragrance.


Boeing’s Cabin Dry Floor was recognized in the Crystal Cabin awards for making a cleaner, healthier bathroom surface a reality.


Ipeco’s IoT galley appliances are connected and can be controlled with an external smart device.

Maybe you’ll feel a little more like you’re at a coffee house than in the sky when your flight attendant whips up a frothy, barista style coffee from the Skytender.

A traditional serving cart is equipped to hold payment system hardware.

TRE3 payment systems make electronic payment for onboard purchases possible.


from subtle

Modular dividers enable airlines to quickly customize the size of different classes quickly and easily.


to branded

to sound deafening

Rockwell Collins’  “Silhouette MOVE” divider was honored in the Crystal Cabin awards for its bowed divider that leaves leg and luggage room.

Shanghai Haoliwen Airline Appliance is sticking with  cotton for its first class and business class linen offerings, shunning the move to polyester like some competitors.

lighter & tougher

have always been selling points for new materials, but  ‘homier’  is another we’re seeing lately.


Our own solution leverages SMA wire to create a massaging action using very little power. Coming to seats near you?  To inquire more about this technology, click here >>

Thank you, auto industry, for inspiring heated and cooled seats for the air.

As vehicle travel is transformed with autonomous technologies, passengers will have more of an airline experience, being transported to their destination while engaging in personal or business activities. As we think about this, we wonder...

Might we eventually all have

one profile

that travels with us where ever we go, delivering customized entertainment, suggestions and instructions?

Might we eventually all have

one portable


that travels with us from car to car and auto to airplane that’s tailored to our bodies and ergonomic preferences?

Might we eventually all have

mode of transportation

that is your own personal pod that flies, drives or otherwise transports you where ever you need to go?

“In the automotive industry, if you don’t deliver on time, you won’t have business. We want to bring the same [mentality] to the airline industry.”



Richard Chung, vice-president innovation and design – seating at Adient, during a presentation at AIX 2018



typically represents enthusiasm, happiness, creativity, determination, attraction, success, and stimulation. No wonder it was an eye popping focus at the auto show.

- This is a quote from our 2018 Trends from the Auto Shows report. Another parallel to the auto industry here in color use.  To read the Auto Show Report,

Click here >>

to economy

from business class...

We appreciate the task lighting that features nicely brushed metals, leather wrapped areas and other finishes. Well placed design details in areas of tactile interaction deliver a high-end experience.




STG Aerospace’s ‘LightMood’ retro fit lighting product is full-color configurable and programmable.

Rockwell Collins’ Secant Luminous Panel micro LED ceiling lighting display allows airlines to brand and set a mood.

Bombardier’s lighting adds to the airy ambiance of their new “Atmosphere” cabin.


there’s no second chance for a first impression

We spend most of our time scoping out new technologies, but this year we also checked out some fashion created for the sky because the customer experience involves every aspect of the journey. It’s important to understand the design inspiration and brands from, well, head to toe.

where is the embedded technology in fabrics? It could be integrated into crew fashion and passenger seating to connect the in-flight experience even further...

dining wear

the devil is in the details

From how it’s presented to the finishes and forms, nothing is overlooked as manufacturers develop lightweight, disposable serving pieces for the air. You’d never guess looking at many that they’re not typical dishware.

It looks like Avid hit the nail on the head as what appears to be their ideal customer checks out their offerings.


Would you like to talk to one of our team members about your new product initiatives?

Contact us >>

Contributors: Gil Cavada, George Guffey, Erik Moses, Nicole Byer, Jake Vail, John Hannon

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