Posted on: 23 January 2015 by Ross McSweeny
In this in-depth look at one of the submissions for the 2015 Crystal Cabin Awards, Inflight-Online.com talks to Nigel Greig, Phitek’s research and design manager, about the company’s ‘green economy for headphones’ concept.
Phitek’s new design is a reaction against the short operational life of current economy headphones, which Greig explains is down to money-saving efforts. “Economy headphones are built to cost and in general the vast majority of economy headphones are being sold for a few tens of U.S. cents in high volumes to airlines. This severely limits the materials that manufacturers can use to low cost plastics and cables, as well as limiting the assembly and test labour available during manufacture.”
Greig says Phitek’ new design has significantly reduced these cheap metal and plastic elements. He illustrates, “Our long-life economy headphones have a headband made from a single main piece of structural moulded plastic, eliminating several plastic structural parts used on traditional economy headphones.
“By inlaying two metallic conductors into the headband for passing signals from the left earcup to the right, we further eliminated the need for a copper cable linking the earcups and with it several soldering movements during manufacture,” Greig continued.
The green element of the design is not only in the product’s longevity, which is ensured by these new materials used to create the headband, but also in the product’s reparability. Greig remarks, “the trump card of our new headband design is that when the headphone jack cable or earcup eventually fail, after an already extended lifetime, the airline can repair the headphone themselves quickly by sliding on a replacement earcup and cable, and easily without needing any specialised tools.”
Phitek hopes that this system will eventually save the airlines money. By combining the reparability of the headphones “with the reduction in staff time spent ordering and disposing of headphones and airlines should realise some significant savings,” stated Greig.
Phitek has refined the design of the early concept samples of its headphones after receiving airline feedback at last year’s APEX tradeshow in Anaheim. The company will be exhibiting the upgraded headphone design at the Aircraft Interiors Tradeshow in Hamburg.