Hamburg, Germany (CNN) — As wi-fi headphones turn into more and more omnipresent, standard-issue airline headphones with their tangled cables and multi-pronged jack plugs appear more and more outdated.
Sure, now you can hyperlink up private headphones with some airplane inflight leisure methods, however will your batteries final the size of a long-haul flight, and are you keen to danger shedding your costly earbud in the seat mechanism, by no means to be seen once more?
Enter Euphony, a brand new airplane seat idea from French plane inside designer Safran Seats, produced in collaboration with audio know-how firm Devialet.
Euphony does away with the want for a private headset. Instead, audio system are installed in every particular person seat’s headrest, with sound ranges perfected so passengers can get pleasure from their selection of inflight leisure with out being overheard or disturbed by their neighbor.
Euphony is designed for a enterprise or top notch cabin.
At first look, the AIX prototype appears to be like much like an everyday enterprise class airplane seat. Safran has made solely minor aesthetic changes to the headrest design.
But the distinction is obvious as quickly as the inflight leisure is switched on. Sound begins blasting out of the headrest, droning out the pre-recorded airplane engine sounds already echoing via the expertise room.
The display performs the booming trailer for the latest Marvel film “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” Atmospheric music blares via the headrest, earlier than the system switches to a few totally different audio experiences, together with a podcast, for comparability.
It takes me a short time to get the headrest in the good spot — for max sound high quality, you need it to be as near your ears as potential.
But as soon as it is in the proper setting, the private audio system appear to work nicely. The whirring of the simulated airplane engine turns into largely background noise and my consideration focuses on what I’m seeing and listening to.
Euphony is not any substitute for the cocoon-like expertise of noise-canceling headphones, nevertheless it’s a cushty arrange and feels extra akin to the expertise of watching a film in your sofa. It can be good for those who have been flying with another person and needed to talk and work together as you watched a film in tandem.
In the AIX expertise room, it is laborious to guage whether or not or not there’s actually no sound leakage — there’s just one Euphony mock-up in place. But the reality that you could’t correctly hear the sound until you have acquired the headrest subsequent to your ear suggests it needs to be comparatively leak-proof, not less than in enterprise or top notch, the place passengers are extra spaced out.
Travelers on the lookout for complete noise cancellation or privateness should want to use their private headset, however Safran senior architect Paul Wills and his group say the thought behind Euphony is to supply vacationers extra choices. Travelers may also join private units to the system by way of Bluetooth, and headrest audio system work when the seat is absolutely reclined in addition to upright.
In-flight bulletins would not be broadcast via the headrest, as a result of they’d even be broadcast in the cabin at massive, and Wills’ group needs to keep away from a “funny mish-mash of sounds.”
Instead, any bulletins from the captain or cabin crew would simply halt the inflight leisure, as is already the norm on flights.
Complex design course of
Safran partnered with audio consultants Devialet to good the sound design.
Euphony has been in improvement for some years now, and Wills and his group say perfecting the idea took trial and teamwork.
When Safran first experimented with placing audio system into the headrest, earlier than Devialet got here on the scene, Wills says the sound high quality was “awful.”
“At that point it was obvious that we’re good seat designers, but we’re not sound designers, so we had to find someone who was,” he says.
Franck Lebouchard, Devialet’s CEO, says the undertaking was a “thrilling” problem for his group of audio consultants.
“An aircraft is probably the most complex sound environment you can imagine, both in terms of the frequencies — low frequencies, high frequencies — and the volume,” Lebouchard tells CNN Travel.
The issue in concurrently blocking out the airplane’s high and low frequency sounds at anyone time is what prompted the group to develop Euphony with out noise cancellation know-how — the designers needed to keep away from blocking out one frequency and unintentionally upping the different.
But Safran and Devialet say the present iteration of Euphony will alter in actual time to masks the cabin noise, and future iterations of the idea will look to additional enhance the sound combine.
Another problem was making certain the greatest sound high quality potential, at the lowest weight. Airlines are at all times making an attempt to keep away from pointless further load — each to cut back their carbon footprint and keep away from further prices.
The completed product nonetheless provides an additional kilo to any pre-existing seat, and it is partly for that reason that Euphony is a enterprise and first-class providing, not less than for now.
“It may not be appropriate at the moment in economy, purely and simply because it weighs too much,” explains Wills.
But in the future, the group reckons they might high quality tune the idea for decrease price cabins.
“There’s a clear demand for it,” says Wills.
Safran already has a yet-to-be-revealed accomplice launch airline, which will probably be premiering the product on their top notch and enterprise class cabins in early 2023. Euphony take a look at flights will happen at the finish of this yr.
The final purpose, says Wills, is to make flying as “normal” as potential, replicating the expertise of stress-free in your individual residence.
“When you go home, you don’t go and pop your headphones on for the evening and watch a movie — it just doesn’t work, does it? You can’t chat to your partner, or your friends, or shout at the dog or whatever else you need to do. You need to be free to move about. And that was the idea with this. You sit down, turn on the TV, play a movie — it’s just like home.”
Top picture courtesy Safran