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Smart Technologies for stress free AiR Travel

Final Report Summary - SEAT (Smart Technologies for stress free Air Travel)

Passenger comfort is clearly a main factor in users' acceptance of transportation systems. An individual's reaction to a vehicle environment depends not only on the physical inputs but also on the characteristics of the individual. The findings of a number of passengers' surveys and comfort related research indicate that there is not a universal optimal setting for comfort related parameters in a plane. Hence, individual passengers are always likely to have certain conflicting requirements as perception for comfort is affected by a variety of factors - gender and ethnicity among the most important ones. The SEAT project promoted a radically new concept where passenger comfort is taken to a new level. The SEAT system developed has smart seats and interior environment with the capability of detecting physiological changes of passenger's condition in real time. This in turn is analysed and appropriate adjustments such as temperature control, air ventilation, seat parameters are put in place. The entire approach has been to create an environment that responds to the individual requirements and desires and is not centrally controlled or manually adjusted. The system was based on advanced technologies and systems developed by the partners as breakthrough research developments or other advanced technologies. A prototype of this new system was demonstrated to the public at the end of the project.

The main SEAT achievements of SEAT include:
- development of a system that suppresses noise overall, as well as for each passenger;
- development of active / passive vibration reduction;
- development technology allowing healthier cabin environment including temperature, pressure, airflow and humidity;
- development of a functional prototype of the SEAT system.

The project was structured into five work packages (WPs), as follows:

WP1 - Physiological monitoring of passengers system
WP1 was devoted to development of appropriate physiological model for assessment of passengers comfort and corresponding measuring systems some of which were installed in the seat (temperature, pressure and humidity sensors, breath frequency measurement installed in seatbelt and others worn by the passengers in the form of a health monitoring kit - EDA and ECG sensors worn on the fingers). The specifically developed wearable devices allowed counteracting psychological stress.

WP2 - Smart SEAT
The smart seat developed under this WP contains a system which monitors the posture of the passenger and also the environmental parameters such as temperature and humidity, as well as the physiological parameters like corporal temperature, breathing rhythm and ECG. Furthermore, a conceptual model for regulating the temperature and humidity of the microclimate of each passenger has been developed, achieving all the goals proposed at the beginning of the project.

WP3 - Noise and vibration attenuation
An extensive investigation was carried out on the possibilities of reducing in-cabin noise and vibrations by means of both passive and active solutions. In particular, the different sources (engines, airframes, other passengers, etc.), as well as their frequency and amplitude behaviour were analysed and it has been logically concluded that passive components should reduce high frequency (> 500 Hz) annoyances and active devices should further improve both acoustical and vibrational fields. The study of the human behaviour under the effect of acceleration and noise was also considered. Initially, information about noise levels during flight were taken from the ISO standard 5129 (2001): Measurement of sound pressure levels in the interior of aircraft during flight. During the operational usage of the SEAT devices, sensors are used to detect noise levels and all capability to decrease internal noise depends upon their ability to obtain accurate information. The ability to transfer data quickly, accurately and to control and store all of the parameters needed is also an important requirement of the transmission systems and of the SEAT devices.

WP4 - Interactive and integrated entertainment
TUE designed a new adaptive music framework for stress free air travels. It integrates the concepts of context adaptive systems, user profiling, and methods of using music to reduce stress into a linear feedback control system. In case of the linear feedback system, a control loop, including the non-intrusive sensor for the passenger's bio signal acquiring and modelling, adaptive control unit for music adaptation strategies, etc. components, is arranged in such a fashion as to try to regulate the passenger's stress state to the target stress state with personalized music playlist recommendation. TUE did the user experiments to validate the adaptive music framework for stress free air travels. Twelve subjects were invited to participate in user experiments. Six were allocated to the controlled group and others were allocated to the treatment group. TUE developed a new time-aware in-flight entertainment (image) system for stress (jet lag) free air travels. Based on the passenger's bio clock indicated by melatonin, the system adapts the colour of the in-flight entertainment system interface, movies and lighting to change his / her circadian rhythm. TUE developed a new in-flight game chair to promote long haul flight passenger's physical comfort. It also designed and implemented in-seat infrastructures and an in-flight entertainment system to integrate office characteristics seamlessly in the entertainment environment to allow effortless switch between work mode and entertainment mode. The in-seat infrastructures include an in-seat USB port and a flexible keyboard. If the passenger wants to work on an office file in a USB stick, he / she can insert the USB stick in the in-seat USB port, and then the passenger can open the word file by a popup menu.

WP5 - Development of integrated adaptable system SEAT demonstrator
This work package was central to the programme as it represents the core of the proposed system - creation of flexible and responsive customer centred cabin environment. The concept is unique in its focused on smart user responsive technologies that provide a different level of comfort provision through. The SEAT system is not based on offering unlimited number of options but a self-adapting system that integrates such options in a unique non-intrusive way. For the comfort platform a row of three seats was set up in the mock up cabin. A computer was used to control the physiological monitoring. The same PC, an intermediate application that receives the ECG data, extracts the heart beat rate and stores the results in the SEAT database were installed. Another computer was used for the management of the climatic and postural controls, as well the comfort model. Two further computers were used for the in-flight entertainment; one server and one client. A computer was also used to show the simulations / material of the. A panel with the infrared (IR) sensor in front of the seat C, and three screens one for each seat and an Ethernet switch to interconnect all the computers in a single net. The pressure mat was place in the seat cushion, over foam of specific characteristics. A thin layer of soft fabric covered it in order to make the sensor mat not detectable when passenger sitting. Both flat and cone shape speakers were integrated in the seats. Thanks to the work and the experimentation done, the computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model of the proposed ventilation system in the cabin sector proved: compactness of the local microclimate pocket in the passenger's area; increased level of RH in breathing area of passenger by 10 %; low level of RH close to the cabin walls (reduced risk of water condensation); sufficient shielding effect of the passenger from the contaminants in the cabin air; low water consumption, 0.08 kg/hour/passenger; limited temperature control. The vibration platform was installed to illustrate the vibration dampening system. Characteristics of vibration platform, passive and active dampening were:
- vibration platform 1 800 x 1 200 mm;
- frequency range: motor with eccentric mass: 1 to 50 Hz;
- electromagnetic vibration transducer: over 100 Hz;
- magnetorheoLogical dampening;
- weight : 250 kg (seats included).
The demonstration was done during the final review meeting and the advisory group workshop.

One of the major innovations of the SEAT project is the development of a novel integrated cabin environment that incorporates:
- physiological monitoring with health alert option that is not in existence in aircraft;
- 'smart seat' that actively addresses potential health hazards and is an integral part of the on-board entertainment;
- 'smart textiles' and other smart technologies in vibration dampening and noise reduction;
- innovative active / passive noise control based on advanced computational models;
- integrated approach to comfort, entertainment and creation of flexible home / office environment.

More research is required before the technologies developed within SEAT could be effectively incorporated into the aircraft cabin.