The speaking Seat Rails

In-flight entertainment (IFE) in airplanes, i.e. the media entertainment of passengers in flight, is becoming increasingly important for airlines. This also increases the demands on the IFE system in terms of data rate, reliability and flexibility.

The aim of the project "Speaking Seat Rail", a project of the University of Applied Sciences Offenburg around Professors Felhauer, Christ and Schüssele of the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technology with the company PFW Aerospace AG in Speyer, is to transfer multi-media data within an IFE system contactlessly via the seat rail of an aircraft to the passenger seats.


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A first simple demonstrator was presented to an international audience of experts at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget in 2009. An enhanced system caused a sensation among experts at last year's Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg. The latest demonstrator now uses the latest transmission technologies for reliable data transmission, as they are also used, for example, in digital television or in 4th generation mobile radio technologies.

Due to full Ethernet compatibility, all known multi-media applications can still be easily implemented with this system.

Compared to wire-bound transmission methods, the innovative, patent-protected system concept of the "talking seat rail" offers airlines the greatest possible flexibility in the arrangement of passenger seats along the seat rail due to contactless transmission without plug connections. Compared to alternative radio technologies based on e.g. WLAN, the "speaking seat rail" requires more than a hundred times less transmitting power due to the extremely low attenuation of the waveguide medium in the seat rail, which in turn leads to drastically reduced interference radiation into the aircraft cabin. In addition, the system is extremely robust against mechanical tolerances in production, assembly and operation.

The innovative project "Speaking Seat Rail" was nominated as a finalist for the Crystal Cabin Award. The Crystal Cabin Award of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg is considered the world's most important international innovation award for outstanding products and concepts in the field of aircraft cabins. In the final decision, at which the project team presented the "talking seat rail" to an international jury at the leading trade fair Aircraft Interiors Expo 2011 in Hamburg, it was not enough for the first prize, but even the nomination for the Crystal Cabin Award is regarded by experts as a high distinction and can be seen as recognition of the innovative project idea and the project results achieved so far at Offenburg University.