Although there have been numerous forms of innovation in the aviation industry over the past few decades, there is still no way to make air travel any faster than what it is at present. As a result, innovators have focused their efforts towards improving the overall experience for travelers instead. However, a French company, Vision Systems, says that it will be focusing its innovative efforts towards the airplane windows – or rather their shades – instead.

Plastic Shades are So Last Decade

The top notch French company has mentioned that it thinks that sliding plastic window shares are for “lameoids.” It feels that the right way to help passengers keep the sun out of their faces is to make use of windows that have the ability to transition from transparent to opaque by using microscopic particles in the actual window panes. The particles in question would be contained in a film that is sandwiched between layers of glass or polycarbonate, and when a predetermined voltage is applied to the film, the particles would align to let light through.

Once the power is shut off, the particles would fall into “disarray” and then be able to block out more than 99% of visible light. Adjusting the voltage would be able to change the opacity of the window.

Automatic Darkening of Windows upon Landing

The main advantage that the auto darkening windows would have over their plastic shaded predecessors is that they would automatically be able to be darkened when a plane lands. This will save time for flight attendants in that they will no longer have to scurry down the aisle to check and see if everyone has closed their shades or not. Another added benefit is that Vision Systems says that these windows have the ability to reduce cabin temperature by as much as 18 degrees Fahrenheit. This could enable airlines to reduce air conditioning usage, which could save a substantial amount of money.

Improving Cockpit Convenience as well

At present, Vision Systems has installed its technology into a few smaller plane models such as the Dassault F5X, Epic E100 and the HondaJet HA-420. The new technology would be able to be used in cockpits as well, which would be fantastic for pilots. Additionally, the company is in the process of working on what it calls an “active-vision window concept.” This would combine the aforementioned particle technology with an interactive video display unit, which would allow passengers to view a map, current flight information or even communicate with crew. Vision Systems says that the idea of this system is to “enhance the value of the window seat (read: charge more for it).”

At this time, it is not overly clear just how much value that type of system would actually add because most of it is already available in the seatback entertainment units. However, in an industry where profits are claimed to be as tight as an economy class seat on most airlines, it’s well worth trying out something new.

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