Enable, A New In-flight Experience

A personalized in-flight system integrates tangible and digital experiences

For this project, our student design team cooperate with engineers and designers from Zodiac Aerospace to carry on the service design brief: creating ‘a dream journey’ for Emirates Airline, while integrate into the product portfolio of Zodiac. Through creating a thorough customer journey map, the design goal was formed to improve the in-flight experience in short haul flight by providing passengers with more engaging inflight product-service system.

Mentor: Froukje Sleeswijk Visser (Assistant professor, TU Delft), Basil Vereecke (User Experievnce Researcher at Zodiac Aerospace)

Award: Crystal Cabin Award - Inflight Passenger Experience Design, 2nd place, April, 2015, Hamburg

Personal Contribution: User research, Concept development, Process management, Information visualization, Video editing, User interface

Team: Kathryn Hing, Paul van Eeghen, Hayagreev Narayan

02/2014 - 04/2014

The culmination of seat back tray table and In-flight Entertainment (IFE) system presents a unique opportunity to create a more comfortable and unique on-board experience for long-haul passengers. Enable. has developed a touch-based experience that combines the two, redefining one of the main in-flight hindrances known as the seatback tray table into a new interactive IFE platform to create a seamless in-flight experience. This invaluable system crafts a seamless in-flight journey for customers whilst acknowledging return customers and frequent fliers by retaining personal preferences of the passenger.

The IFE tray table is a simple and innovative solution that projects an interactive and personalized entertainment system onto a passenger’s tray table, making use of the extensive dimensions of the passenger’s tray table and redefines passenger’s preconceived ideas of the traditional tray table. The system recognizes specific physical product, like food, earphones, book, etc, and acts digitally according to the product. In this way, an integration of digital and tangible experience is created and enriched. The combination of passenger interaction and tactile feedback makes use of current technologies in an innovative and skillful way that has not yet been experienced within the aviation industry.

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The final concept is to give the tray table a totally different definition, an interactive engaging system that blends tangible items and digital interaction. The solution is easy to implement because we took use of some newly developed technologies such as pico projector, leap motion controller, and mini computer.

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Process Overview

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We had a visit and interview with both crew from KLM Airline and Emirates Airline at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. Finally we merged all insights to create a comprehensive customer journey. With all the touch points we got, we identified pinpoints and opportunities, which mainly focus on in-flight dinning/engaging experience, thus for further concept development.

The visit to Zodiac Experience Lab located in Alkmaar, the Netherlands, helps us shape and enhance the understanding of in-flight user experience by taking use of a real cabin in the lab. We monitored the real situation and had discussion on detail improvements.

The comprehensive customer journey


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Comparison of traditional and new solutions

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Airlines will create a unique and positive customer experience making flights as carefree as possible. The system reduces the number of crew to customer interactions and replaces them with a new brand-inspired touch point. Multiple layers of engagement extending from two-way interactions, customization and object recognition within the system allows the customer to remain content and comfortable during the flight. Lastly, this is an economical way for airlines to track their customers’ food and beverage choices, entertainment choices, and interests, providing a mine of big data, vital to mould their company to suit their customers needs. It also creates yet a reason to fly with the same brand, creating brand loyalty.

For the aviation industry, not only does this IFE system redefine the tray table, but it also creates brand partnerships between the customer and the airline.

Personalisation can now be taken into the sky, with an in-flight personalised system that pushes the industry forward as today’s current displays becomes more and more redundant due to people’s need for more personalised and user-friendly products in flight. By providing customers with these, not only will the customer feel provided for, but will also allow the airline to be able to gather valuable travel data.

For the passengers, this is the beginning of what will become a seamless brand experience. For frequent fliers and return customers, their personal specifications are saved from their previous trip. It is a useful, efficient and effective system that improves further journeys, as the system knows what entertainment they have already consumed, is educative through informative suggestions, and is better catered to their preferences the more it is used.

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An entertainment system that is uniquely for the sky merely requires a small projector, a motion detection device that is fitted to the seat back in front of passengers. The backward integration into old aircrafts is feasible and eliminates existing touchscreen, which are becoming redundant because of bad interactions.

In our proposal, the new product service system consist of three main parts. A Leap motion controller within 2 feet distance as input controller, a pico project facing the tray table as output controller, and a mini computer such as Raspberry Pi to transfer all the data. Putting together, the total weight of a set of this PSS is only 250 grams, which is even lighter than the current screens and cables. The total cost is only 370.89 Euros.

Since in-flight Wi-fi service is already grounded and implemented into airlines. The data cloud will be controlled by the massive Wi-fi system from ground to reduce the load and energy waste on aircraft.


For our final service concept which involves a personalization and projection system. There are four parts of stakeholders involved, Emirates Airline, Zodiac Aerospace, customers, and other stakeholders.
The info graphic below elaborates recommendations for implementation for two main stakeholders, Emirates Airline and Zodiac Aerospace.
Zodiac Aerospace mainly focus on technology and hardware innovation in aircraft, the recommendation for further development involves projection system, tray table modification, and surrounding hardware development.
For the projection system which includes both projection technology and touch detection technology. Separate suppliers will be involved, like Sony and X-box. While small modifications like size, flexible part, textures of the tray table will put into further exploration in order to find the most suitable way to serve customers. Last but not least, surrounding hardware like seat backs or stuffs for adjusting viewing angles of the customers have to put into consideration in order to insert the projection system into the whole sitting system.
Brief recommendations for Emirates Airline and other stakeholders are also shown in the graph above. Apart from that, what should also be mentioned as interesting point is that because Emirates Airline involves crew members and flight routes in their system, developments like crew training and sensitization, or route wise roll out should be put in to consideration.

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