Just a few months back, we heard of a Paris-based design company’s intriguing and thought-provoking new aviation concept: windowless airplanes. While the idea may sound a little too gimmicky to ever come to fruition, a UK company thinks it’s credible and wants to make it a reality within the next decade.
For the claustrophobics out there, a plane without windows may sound like a total nightmare, but the idea isn’t to take away your view of the world as you soar through the air, it’s to enhance it. This would be achieved by lining the cabin and seatbacks with smart display screens that would tantalize your visual senses with panoramic views of the outside that come from a set of cameras mounted to the plane’s exterior. Of course, if you don’t fancy watching the skies, you can always flick over the usual in-flight entertainment.
If you’re still not convinced, there is method behind the madness. Removing windows negates the need for heavy housings, which would significantly reduce the weight of the plane. Less weight means less fuel needs to be used, so ultimately you’d be saving money. According to the company—the Center for Process Innovation (CPI)—for every 1% reduction in weight, there’s approximately a 0.75% in fuel savings. Furthermore, the environment would benefit from the accompanying reduction in CO2 emissions.
The screens would make use of an organic light-emitting diode (OLED), which is a compound that gives out light in response to an electric current. While at the moment it comes with a high price tag, CPI is working hard to reduce manufacturing costs. CPI also faces the challenge of making OLED-based screens that are flexible, which would be necessary in order to successfully integrate them into the planes.
“We can make transistors that are flexible, but if we can make OLEDs that are flexible, that gives us a lot of potential in the market because we can print OLEDs on to packaging,” said CPI’s Dr. Jon Helliwell. But the futuristic technology doesn’t end there; the images displayed would also change in accordance with the passenger’s head movements.
If CPI are successful in developing OLED technology, ultimately it could also lead to “smart packaging” for pharmaceuticals or food which would provide gadgets with important information, such as when the produce is spoiling.