Amazing views of the earth below or a great sunset are always cool, but outside glare streaking across your face when you're trying to sleep
. . . not so much!
VISIONS Window Systems - Cabin Mood at a Touch
As we all know, the business of controlling the glare of sun and/or its light within the cabin is fundamental to the passenger flight experience. It’s something that’s been around in both commercial and private aircraft almost since the beginning. Even Pan-Am made sure their venerable B-314 Clipper Flying Boat was fitted with functional widow shades – and fancy they were! Stylish accordion variants with exposed cords and a fancy aluminum surround. But that was for 25 very well-to-do passengers traveling across the Pacific to then new routes such as Hawaii and Guam. Yet impressive it was for the late 30’s.
But from those days forward, it was all about increasing passenger loads. OEMs like McDonald-Douglas and Boeing were in a race to fulfill the demand of major carriers – who in turn were meeting the challenge of making commercial air travel affordable to the masses. Now I’m not sure what sort of window shades were employed on early commercial aircraft throughout the post-war fifties – but certainly we all know the evolution (if you can call it that) they took in the sixties and beyond as commercial jetliners began carrying passenger loads of 90 and beyond. Q: How many times can you remember breaking a nail trying to dislodge one of those exceedingly cheap, wavy, discolored plastic things (a.k.a. shades) on almost any flight, anywhere!? And it didn’t matter if you were in first or steerage - they were all the same version of substandard.
Rest assured however, that while the OEM’s have largely remained committed to cheap ‘slider type shades, there have been many companies from the late eighties forward, equally as committed to improving window shades, and in some instances taking them to high levels of form and function.
Today we’re going to talk about one company that arguably resides at the very top of the food chain. Vision Systems (a Gauzy company) is indeed defining the evolutionary curve in this space. But why is it important to point out their parent company? Because Gauzy is a world leading materials science company, focused on the research, development, manufacturing, and marketing of vision and light control technologies that support safe, sustainable, and agile user experiences across a number of industries.
Headquartered near Lyon, France, Vision Systems maintains a production and sales unit in Florida, USA, and trade offices in Singapore, Dubai, and Montreal, Vision Systems and its division Safety Tech design, develop and market complete bespoke solutions for the aerospace, land transport and marine sectors. Vision Systems alone, however, specializes in dimmable shading systems, cabin shades and cockpit blinds, passenger comfort systems and ambience management for both commercial and private aircraft.
The other, and perhaps more important reason, is that Vision Systems has managed to combine both superior electro-mechanical window shades with SPD (Suspended Particle Device) programmable windows.
But there are two distinct reasons why we have sought out Vision Systems for this article. One is its origins. The fact that they are the subsidiary of a materials science company is significant because material properties and testing are a major function in the design of successful products that will undergo high repetitive use and harsh environs. The other, and perhaps more important reason, is that VS has managed to combine both superior electro-mechanical window shades with SPD (Suspended Particle Device) programmable windows. Merging these two attributes into their array of product solutions is unprecedented and represents the pinnacle of both technologies.
First let’s take their electro-mechanical motorized shade system. These systems can be completely customized to your customer’s specifications – offering smooth or pleated fabrics, single or double screen – each featuring quick, silent and fluid motion and each guaranteeing complete black-out and no light-bleed. The shade systems are also fully synchronizable and offer a range of durable, high-quality finishes. The aesthetics are clean, simple and devoid of unnecessary details – thereby leaving it up to the designer to decide if further enhancements are required. Vision Systems’ motorized shades can be adapted to suit one, two or even three windows (The triple shade will be unveiled at Aircraft Interiors Expo next week, we think it is a world first).
Electronically Dimmable SPD Windows
Now let’s talk about Vision Systems’ secondary offering – which can either be employed as a stand-alone OR in combination with the motorized shade system. Electronically Dimmable Windows: SPD Nuance is the ultimate in smart-touch technology, allowing the passenger to electronically dim the aircraft windows themselves. Vision Systems’ variable shading can take you from totally clear to completely dark, in order to control daylight, glare and heat while preserving the view. It all happens with instant, silent response time for a peaceful atmosphere, plus automatic dimming to the darkest setting when parked on the ground; also heat rejection and UV blockage, for cooler interior and reduction of air conditioning consumption. Automatic, centralized or individual control through touch panel or personal device, integrated electronics for low maintenance and weight saving for greater fuel efficiency.
These solutions can also eliminate (or replace) shades, that block the view and require regular maintenance, while protecting passengers from unwanted daylight or glare. They include innovative features such as complete privacy, multi-segment for Venetian shade effect, mood-lighting, or integrated touch panels.
This offering is designed to go beyond merely the controlling of windows or shades. Depending on the chosen ambiance or specific moment of the passenger’s journey, Vision Systems’ Ambiance Management System generates the right atmosphere to offer each passenger a unique experience. Via either a smart tablet or control panel, the traveler can select a “mood”, such as reading, sleeping or waking up, leading to the automatic synchronization of the shade, the dimmable windows and the lighting to create the perfect adequacy between the selected mood and the lighting atmosphere.
Each of Vision Systems shading systems can be controlled separately, or simultaneously through the ambiance management system. Developed in-house based on Vision Systems know-how in cabin management systems, the solution can also integrate other elements of the cabin ambiance (e.g. image, sound, temperature) via either individual or crew control.
But even with all the above, Vision Systems’ engineers decided to take it a bit further, rounding it all out with something just plain cool! This concept of innovative window aims to offer a truly unique passenger experience. As an example, a smart glass partition can be created that projects messages, images or videos such as travel information, menus, stock exchange indices or advertising. When nothing is displayed, the divider can remain transparent, or opaque (white or dark) to offer privacy between classes. The crew can easily control the display system and the opacity level directly from the flight attendant panel. The combination of SPD+PDLC technologies ensures perfect readability of the projected content. Passengers can even interact with the information displayed via a touchscreen. Priority announcements can be pushed through a central panel to the window and specific advertising can be addressed to a particular passenger. Vision Systems’ solution ensures the generation of ancillary revenues through advertising and sponsoring, and a high return on investment as the integrated SPD solution is also a smart shading and privacy system permitting the elimination of shades if desired. Here again, the deep experiential background of Vision Systems’ parent company pays off in yet another level of cabin comfort and flight experience.
Whether on windows or doors, relevant travel information is available for the passengers on the existing facilities. The background can adjust automatically from clear to dark for perfect contrast and readability (integrated SPD solution). The integrated SPD solution is a smart shading system affording regulated daylight, glare and heat entering the cabin.
So, while we may not be returning to the days of exotic trans-oceanic seaplanes and eating Baluga Caviar with our pals over the Pacific – we can gloat in the assurance that our well-heeled ancestors never got a chance to wake up from their nap with electronic windows adjusting themselves to the perfect ‘no-squint’ opacity while taking their orange juice.
Vision Systems’ genuine expertise in cabin solar protection and ambiance places it today among the world leaders in this area. Below, find several demonstration videos providing additional clarity to each product sector described above – within its environment.
For more information, visit: vision-systems.fr