APEX Insight: At this year’s APEX EXPO, Panasonic Avionics showcased a series of technological innovations that could transform the passenger experience.
Panasonic Avionics has gained notoriety at tradeshows for its Cool Room, which showcases forward-looking technology that the electronics company has its eye on. But this year, the company’s shaking things up. “It seems like there’s been the perception of it being a walled activity at Panasonic and not well integrated, so we’re trying to break that wall down,” says Steve Sizelove, responsible for Corporate Strategic Innovation. “We want to show it’s actually part of our DNA, not just a side activity.”
A quick collection of biometrics means that personal preferences can be carried with visitors through each station to tailor their experience. “It’s for authentication as well as for personalization,” says Sizelove. Visitors can fill out a one-minute questionnaire that lets them choose their favorite destination – from Paris to New York City, meal preferences and even share their preferred type of pet.
Augmented and Virtual Reality Arena
At this station, a custom, two-player game virtually brings visitors into parallel elevators where they race to the top while completing tasks and escaping from obstacles, but there’s an augmented twist. “To make it more fun, spectators will get to view what’s going on in the virtual environment on a big screen,” says Sizelove. “They’ll have the ability to influence the experience using a tablet at the side of the station.”
“On both ends of the augmented and virtual reality arena, we have a Microsoft HoloLens,” says Sizelove. One HoloLens will map out key areas of the booth, featuring iconic representations in the air over the other stations that can be interacted with. The other HoloLens will bring users to Singapore Changi Airport in 3-D. “We’ll be able to actually, for example, drag weather systems down over the airport and show how that affects traffic,” he says.
Vintage travel posters from Cairo, Paris and other global cities will tie the old world with the new when visitors augment them by holding tablets up to them, prompting an animated advertisement to pop up. “This will demonstrate how you can use tablets in their native way, to actually bring something to life, which could have some applicability in the industry,” says Sizelove.
Simulated Airplane Fuselage
Inside a simulated airplane fuselage, virtual windows create scenes with head-tracking technology, and projections will completely transform the cabin environment. “Instead of having LCDs for every window, you can use a projector … which may be a more plausible implementation of magic windows.” Projections synchronized on the ceiling and sidewalls will transform the cabin into anything from a submarine to a “transparent” flying experience.
The audio station tackles advances and challenges in sound innovation. “We’re trying to address the whole digital headphone trend,” says Sizelove. Wired USB-A and USB-C headphones will immerse listeners in a 3-D sound environment, supported with head-tracking tech. The station will also explore the logistics of bringing Bluetooth on board and the opportunities provided by high-definition audio.
The Integrated Experience
Smart interactive tables, projections and high-definition displays are brought together in a prototype of a first-class suite created in partnership with Jamco. Passengers can preview menu items on smart surfaces, switching from, say, pork to fish, and then place their order. Glasses on the table will automatically suggest pairings for the meal. Photos can be shared between travelers on different devices, and even interacted with in 3-D.