For some, the CES starts as soon as they step into the Las Vegas Convention Centre. For others – while flying at 33,000 feet on the way to the conference. That’s exactly what Deutsche Telekom and Lufthansa did yesterday (08.01.2018) through their FlyingLab event on its Lufthansa Airbus A380 from Frankfurt to Houston.
FlyingLab is this year’s challenge set out by Deutsche Telekom’s Fashion Fusion initiative, in partnership with Lufthansa. In 2017, the competition brief invited fashion, creative and engineering talent to submit their ideas about enhancing long-distance flight experience through the use of fashion and technology. This wasn’t just about innovation around the passengers’ experience but included the cabin crew too.
Over the past few month, the finalists of the three finalist teams worked at Fab Lab Berlin on intelligent solutions for the flight experience of tomorrow. Three prototypes were presented and tested on board, including projects for new airline seats, on-board entertainment, and methods of communication between cabin crew and passengers.
Team feel.flight focused on increasing passengers’ well-being on long-haul flights, presenting a chatbot system for communication between passengers and flight attendants. The chatbot can classify passenger needs, arrange them by priority and coordinate the appropriate service activities. For other matters, such as requests for food and drinks or tips against fear of flying, the request is transferred to a real flight attendant.
The team also developed a smart blanket with integrated neck pillow which can be worn like a cape and adjusted to the passenger's individual need for warmth. Vibrations in the blanket's neck pillow can wake the passenger gently, without a flight attendant having to intervene.
Team Smart Chair presented a project focused on passengers' personal space and a new outfit for the cabin crew. The fabrics used to make the prototype uniforms are thermo-regulated, breathable, antibacterial, and antiallergic. As such, they stand up to the high demands of flight attendant workwear.
Last, but not least, team Lyra unveiled a web application and a smart glasses system aiming to improve personal service on board. For the flight attendants, LYRA Connect minimises routing and optimises service activities. Passengers can use their own mobile devices to send requests easily to the flight crew such as ordering drinks or asking if they will make their connecting flights. The next available flight attendant sees the request directly in their field of vision, thanks to the smart glasses, and knows immediately who has asked the question or placed the order. Using the system the crew can also find out in advance which language a passenger speaks or their meal preferences.
Lufthansa passengers on the flight had the opportunity to try out innovative products and services and find out more about smart fashion in a series of talks from thought leaders in the space, including Prof. Dr. Paul Lukowicz (German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence), Christian Stammel (CEO of Wearable Technologies AG), Dr.
Sabine Seymour (CEO of SUPA), Camille Bénech (Global Brand Lead for Luxury & Beauty at Google), and Paul Dillinger (VP and Head of Global Product Innovation and Premium Collection Design for Levi Strauss & Co).
"Technology and fashion are part of Lufthansa's DNA. We've been working on functional clothing for 60 years. The challenge helps us expand our pool of ideas and gain valuable outside impetus: we can find out what our passengers really want on board. It brings us even closer to the flight experience of tomorrow," said Kai Duve, Head of Frankfurt Cabin Crews at Deutsche Lufthansa AG and member of the judging panel in an official statement.
"The Fashion Fusion Challenge shows how digitization can positively change our travel experience on board aircraft and increase our personal well-being. We see ourselves as enablers here, because smart gadgets, smart fashion, and wearables require connectivity. With our gigabit network of the future and the best network technologies, we offer smart future experiences," said Antje Hundhausen, Vice President for 3D Brand Experience at Deutsche Telekom.
Following the Lufthansa FlyingLab, the prototypes will be presented to an international audience in Las Vegas, at an accompanying event at CES. The initiators of this exclusive challenge are pursuing further ventures with the teams: Lufthansa plans to pilot a larger number of the feel.flight blankets during the next FlyingLab, for example. Deutsche Telekom has also invited several teams to attend brand presentations at the Mobile World Congress and #FASHIONTECH in Berlin. Deutsche Telekom is also in talks with the Lyra team about the further development of the web application.
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