This Aircraft Manufacturer Thinks Flexible Displays Could Revolutionize Inflight Entertainment

Dec 12, 2018

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Flexible displays are held in high regard across the consumer technology space. While we’ve seen them implemented in certain high-end televisions and outdoor signage installations, they’ve yet to become ubiquitous in the consumer space. If Airbus has its way, however, we may well enjoy the spoils on a commercial jet in the future.

The company responsible for some of the more anticipated birds of the next decade, the A220 and A330-900neo chief among them, is anticipating a future where a seatback monitor could wrap around the edges of a headrest if desired. Or, a future where flexible sensors are embedded at various points on a seat in order to regulate temperature based on how hard you just ran to catch your connecting flight.

Airbus and Royole Technology ink partnership on flexible technologies (Photo courtesy of Airbus)
Airbus and Royole Technology ink partnership on flexible technologies (Photo courtesy of Airbus)

Airbus China Innovation Centre (ACIC) has inked a memorandum of understanding with Royole Technology — a company with expertise in creating flexible displays, flexible sensors and foldable smartphones — to “develop applications that implement flexible electronic technologies in cabin environments and investigate the possibilities for commercial cooperation.”

Now, this isn’t confirmation that we’ll see flexible IFE panels, but it is exciting to think of what will transpire as the brainstorming sessions begin. Airbus has committed to building “a futurized, digitalized and personalized cabin to further improve the cabin environment, cabin safety and energy saving,” which could take many shapes and forms.

The latest IFE technology installed in Delta’s Airbus A220 (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)

One could envision a business or first-class cabin with wraparound displays that showcase high resolution video of Maui during a boarding to Kahului (OGG), or a cabin with increased foot space due to fewer electronics required to power the IFE. It’s also possible that flexible displays could allow smaller, regional jets to sport some level of inflight entertainment where space has previously been an issue. Whatever reality awaits us, we’re eager to see it play out.

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