the old remark…
“Yea, but what have you
Sad as it is, let’s face it… even your most impressive innovations have a shelflife – and well, some companies simply languish a bit too long on prior achievements. But I think most
would agree, ROSEN Aviation rarely, if ever, has the above question cast in their direction.
© 2022 Camber Aviation Management, Pierrejean Vision and Kestrel Aviation Management
By: Neil Lambert
Since their founding in 1982, Rosen Aviation has remained one of the great industry examples of NEVER resting in complacency. It’s paid off. And it’s also undoubtedly the reason they’ve grown to become the gold standard in the global aviation display industry. With its Eugene, Oregon facility, Rosen is now a global leader in its three areas of business: aviation displays, sensor technologies and cabin electronics. Rosen has focused its technology strategy on providing solutions for an enhanced passenger experience in tomorrow’s aircraft cabin. Rosen advocates for its customers’ interests by delivering on its promise to provide Visionary Insight and Precise Performance. The word ‘tomorrow’ is important here and equally indicative of the company’s strategy. Certainly, Rosen offers an extremely impressive array of products on their shelves – but always running in parallel with that baseline, is an aggressive, dedicated focus on the research and development of products for deployment 5 or 10 years downstream.
According to the company’s Customer Success Manager, Justin Watson…Rosen’s ongoing mission is to redefine the passenger experience in its entirety. “Virtually every environment, from homes to cars and aircraft cabins, are made up of integrated systems with ‘smart’ functionality.” He says. “Given this evolution in methodology, we have shifted from creating standalone products in isolation to creating dynamic solutions that might integrate with several components and systems.” Since taking this more holistic approach to product development, Rosen has already seen the impact of leveraging cutting-edge technologies, along with trusted partnerships and what Watson calls “a fearless approach to evolving the passenger journey.”
Rosen indeed has a rich history and reputation of producing the industry’s highest quality, most reliable cabin displays. And their goal is to continue doing so as emerging technologies unlock new and innovative applications such as digital windows and skylights. But Rosen’s ultimate vision is a cabin that engages every sense, learns and adapts to passenger preferences, and seamlessly integrates to the environment at large so as to be invisible when not in use. This means a suite of sensors, smart surfaces, biometrics, intelligent audio solutions, connectivity and high-performance processing capabilities.
Naturally Rosen isn’t the only ‘progressive’ company out there – but in researching for this article, it’s pretty clear they are indeed looking through a very long-range holistic lens. And they also appear to be the only IFE/CMS company painting with such a wide brush – let alone as aggressively. The notion that cabin sensors could one day anticipate the needs and desires of passengers is, well…pretty Star-Trecky stuff! But with even some of the current technologies being unrolled, there’s nothing far-fetched about it. Smart technology isn’t new and certainly AI is already in play in many sectors – so to say it’s coming may not be news. But for any company, let alone one of Rosen’s relative size, aggressively pursuing such a unified goal is impressive – and may soon result in a significantly shortened runway to market, for such game changing cabin innovations.
But let's talk specifics. Stacked up below is a quick anatomy of ROSEN's successes, both current and down the road. We'll begin with those having taken place over the last year - followed by an impressive lineup of products slated for rollout in the immediate near-term. . . and finally a peek at the ones still in early development for release in a few years.
In July of last year, Devialet (headquartered in Paris, France), leader in ground-breaking audio solutions, and Rosen announced an exclusive partnership to advance the inflight experience for end-to-end premium cabin design.
Rosen and Devialet are now collaborating on the integration of audio, video, and cabin interface solutions - solutions that are completely unique to aircraft interiors. Both companies reference their corporate culture alignment in addition to technical capabilities as part of a shared vision to redefine the passenger experience through groundbreaking technologies.
The French audio enterprise is completely vertically integrated: what they call “end-to-end innovation”. Devialet owns more than 200 patents, including ADH® and SAM® – Analog Digital Hybrid and Speaker Active Matching, respectively. These pioneering technologies allow Devialet to produce high-resolution acoustics in uniquely compact and iconic designs, such as their latest line of Phantom wireless speakers. Rosen and Devialet will utilize their respective, exclusive technologies to save space and weight while simultaneously generating differentiating experiences for business, V/VIP and eVTOL passengers and crew alike.
Another big leap forward for Rosen is the recent partner collaboration with JOLED Inc. (headquartered in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan) JOLED is an expert and manufacturer of 4K OLED by printing technology. OLEDs are the display technology of the next-generation, offering benefits that the industry has never experienced, such as super-thin panels, weight reduction, wide viewing angles, enhanced colors, high resolution, and nearly infinite contrast ratios.
JOLED and Rosen are currently collaborating on the development and integration of medium sized OLED displays into aircraft interiors. The two companies will leverage their respective technologies and expertise to maximize functionality and attractiveness of OLEDs in the cabin environment.
"The entire team at Rosen was certainly excited to announce our partnership with JOLED late last year, but seeing the end result 12 months later is somewhat surreal. These OLED displays are so thin and lightweight, and deliver a truly evolutionary picture quality that must be seen to be believed. Our Design, Engineering, Product Development and Test groups have worked incredibly hard to create a world-class viewing experience.”
Lee Clark, Senior Vice-President Strategy at Rosen Aviation
Understandably, ROSEN is not able to discuss new products that are completed or nearing the end of their development cycle, however they were willing to disclose the following products slated for rollout either later this year or soon after.
Full range of production OLEDs, 22” 27” 32”, 42” (Dec. 2022), 48” & 55”
Modular smart surface sensors with proximity detection and haptic feedback
Fully functional OLED digital skylight prototype curved to aircraft fuselage radius
Digital Window & Skylight applications:
Rosen is developing digital windows and skylights after receiving strong interest from multiple customers in both business and commercial aviation markets. The dynamic architecture of OLED displays allows for a sleek, lightweight design that can be curved to meet the shape and contour of virtually any cabin. The primary use-case is to display video fed by one, or multiple, outside cameras, but users can also choose from pre-recorded or computer generated scenery, creating a spacious, open-air environment. Rosen already supplies virtual windows in partnership with other suppliers to Emirates 777-300ER first class pods, and curved OLED displays are the next evolution in this product line.
Despite the above, it's clear a significant part of the ROSEN team is dedicated to products that will serve the future of air-travel. We wish we could disclose more about these products but naturally, details of their development must be kept close to the vest until they near rollout. That said, let's take a capsulized look at a few of what ROSEN's R&D teams are pursuing currently. Each are in varying stages - but as we eluded above, all of these are still a few years down the road in terms of formal announcement or rollout.
OLED Virtual Windows
As described above OLED's in the near-term future will be able to be utilized in countless ways - one of those being the creation of virtual windows at any point along the cabin wall or ceiling, and with of course, any kind of moving imagery across it, recreating the same sensation of a real window.
ROSEN refers to it as a Virtual Window with Geo-Positioned Augmented reality. But however you refer to it, it will offer yet another radical flexibility in cabin design and a dramatic elevation in flight experience.
Curved OLED Headrest Displays
Few advancements have done more for inflight ambience than OLED technology. Here we're looking at small curved displays that deploy from the chair's headrest, offering an up-close and private viewing experience at the touch of a button.
Additionally, ultra-thin screens that don't require backlighting allow cabin designers to treat OLED almost like 'wallpaper' in aircraft cabins. It can be installed along ceilings and cabin walls to create a unique and relaxing visual flight experience.
Roll-Down Theater Screens
Over the last couple of decades, large cabin screens have meant lots of additional weight and provisioning at the very least - not to mention their very stationary presence at all times (unless hidden by equally heavy mechanical deployments from cabinetry). In the near future, says ROSEN, they will have certified, ultra-thin, ultra-lightweight "roll-down" screens that will easily deploy from valances or other locations utilizing only a small amount of stowed space.
In the near future, there will no longer be the need to dedicate an entire cabin as a media room - and that's huge in terms of maximizing space utilization.
People & Material Safe Disinfecting Lighting
New, innovative visible light-based disinfection methods are being adapted for aircraft cabins. New materials are being developed for seats, armrests and tables that can withstand vigorous sterilization with powerful chemicals.
The visible light disinfection solution can be used pre, post and in flight, ensuring a further level of safety against harmful pathogens for passengers and crew.
Additionally new HVAC solutions are being developed to further improve the already high indoor quality of cabin air and surfaces.
Holographic Cabin Controls
One of the many innovative technologies ROSEN is developing are a variety of holographic cabin controls eliminate the need for buttons and allow crewmembers to control the cabin environment without needing to touch surfaces.
Cabins with holographic controls have a slick, seamless appearance that exudes the luxury of minimalism and smooth uninterrupted surfaces.
Not to mention the overwhelming "cool" factor it presents to all on board!
Rather needless to say, ROSEN is a forward facing company. But supporting that posture is more than a marketing strategy. The real horsepower behind ROSEN's aggressive pursuit of the future - is their past, and a long list of well-engineered, proven products already installed and working across multiple generations of aircraft. This is what ultimately lends both the fuel and the credibility to dream big.
Ultimately however, there are two practical varieties of dreaming big . . . the 'pie in the sky' variety that 'wows' at the shows, but never seem to turn up in the marketplace. And then there are those that are supported by heavy foundations and longevity - the ones that are taken seriously and the ones that then show up on actual aircraft - the ones where you look back and say. . . ."Hey, I remember ROSEN talking about this three years ago!"