Deutsche Telekom and Lufthansa are making flying smarter
The future of flying starts now: over a period of several months, the finalists of the “Telekom Fashion Fusion & Lufthansa FlyingLab” fashion and technology competition worked at Fab Lab Berlin on intelligent solutions for the flight experience of tomorrow. Three prototypes will be presented and tested on board a Lufthansa Airbus A380 today on its flight from Frankfurt to Houston. The young developer teams are presenting their ideas for new airline seats, on-board entertainment, and methods of communication between cabin crew and passengers. The platform of the event on flight LH440 is the Lufthansa FlyingLab, which gives Lufthansa passengers the opportunity to try out innovative products and services and find out more about smart fashion in a series of presentations – all at 33,000 feet.
Kai Duve, Head of Frankfurt Cabin Crews at Deutsche Lufthansa AG and member of the judging panel, is pleased with the innovative developments in the competition: “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.”
Overview of the teams:
Team feel.flight: Increased well-being on long-haul flights
The feel.flight team is presenting a full product system for improved individual communication and well-being on future long-haul flights. The center of communications between passengers and flight attendants is a chatbot, which can be addressed through most of the widespread messenger apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. The chatbot is capable of classifying passenger needs, arranging them by priority, and coordinating the appropriate service activities. For other matters, such as requests for food and drinks or tips against fear of flying, a flight attendant becomes involved. Their uniform cuffs contain small displays that are linked with microcontrollers. For increased travel comfort, a blanket with integrated neck pillow 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: The airline seat of tomorrow
The Smart Chair project – which is more of a visionary concept study than a functional prototype – focuses on flight passengers’ personal space. Every passenger will enjoy a fully customized flight experience in their Smart Chairs – from entertainment program to travel comfort. The Smart Chair team also worked on a new outfit for cabin personnel. The fabrics used to make the prototype uniforms are thermoregulated, breathable, antibacterial, and antiallergic. As such, they stand up to the high demands of flight attendant workwear.
Team Lyra: Better focus on passengers with smart glasses
The Lyra team, with its “LYRA Connect” web application, wants to improve future communication between passengers and cabin crew, and thus personal service on board. For the flight attendants, LYRA Connect minimizes routing and optimizes service activities. Passengers can use their own mobile devices to send requests easily to the flight crew. Passengers can use it to order drinks, for example, or ask whether they will make their connecting flights. The next available flight attendant sees the request directly in their field of vision, thanks to smart glasses, and knows immediately who has asked the question or placed the order. The flight attendants can also call up additional information about passengers. To do so, they have to stand on a signal field, which is installed in the floor in front of each seat. LYRA then displays the corresponding information discretely on the flight attendant’s smart glasses. As a result, the flight attendant can find out in advance which language a passenger speaks, for example, or which meal preferences they specified.
The teams used modern information and manufacturing technologies to develop their prototypes, including 3D printing, laser cutting, digitally supported Jacquard weaves, and even the integration of artificial intelligence. The teams were supported by digitization and aviation experts, as well as by partner companies, over the entire project phase. Zeiss Smart Optics provided its slim data goggles for testing, for example.
The industry focus of the competition was a complete success
Deutsche Telekom, the initiator of Fashion Fusion, is also convinced that the industry focus they defined in this year’s challenge, on the future of flying, together with partner Lufthansa, was successful.
“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,” says Antje Hundhausen, Vice President for 3D Brand Experience at Deutsche Telekom.
Collaboration with the finalists extended
Following the Lufthansa FlyingLab, the prototypes will be presented to an international audience in Las Vegas, at an accompanying event to the CES (Consumer Electronics Show). 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.
In-flight conference with renowned digital experts
The conference portion is the heart of each Lufthansa FlyingLabs flight. On board flight LH440, five renowned digital experts are providing insights into the topic “Fashion & Technology“: 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). The speakers will be on camera on the Lufthansa flagship. All passengers will see the live video stream and presentations via WiFi, over a network installed specifically for the FlyingLab. The system also permits passengers to use their own devices to send questions to the speakers. The result is not only a one-of-a-kind conference atmosphere at cruising altitude, but also a dialog between passengers and experts.