A pilot’s headset needs to combine high functionality with a well-thought-out design, as it is a key contributor to the safety of the pilot and passengers. Audio specialist Sennheiser therefore collaborated with DesignworksUSA, a design consultancy and subsidiary of the BMW Group to develop their new S1 Digital general aviation headset which will launch at AirVenture 2011 in Oshkosh on July 25th. “Safety, excellent speech intelligibility and comfort for fatigue-free listening were our top priorities,” explains Jörg Buchberger, Sennheiser Business Segment Manager Aviation. “We had a lot of completely new ideas for the headset which we wanted to implement together with an experienced partner. We found the perfect one in BMW Group DesignworksUSA.”
Comprehensive view on mobility design
DesignworksUSA specializes in providing strategic design solutions and creative consulting services to partners across diverse industries ranging from consumer electronics, medical devices and transportation to sustainability consulting. The company´s projects in the aviation industry span from commercial airlines to business jets. “We are designing entire cabin solutions as well as cockpits and equipment which provide an excellent backdrop of knowledge and expertise that also translated into the functional and aesthetic expressions of the S1 Digital headset,” said Laurenz Schaffer, President BMW Group DesignworksUSA. The knowledge transfer between multiple industries and disciplines allows DesignworksUSA to bring in fresh perspectives and create surprising results. In the case of developing the S1 Digital aviation headset the creative consultancy leveraged more specifically on its experience in consulting for premium products in various transportation and mobility sectors.
Ergonomic fit and comfort for relaxed and safe flying
The design of the S1 Digital ensures an optimum fit and a high level of comfort. The pilot can regulate the contact pressure of the ear cushions via a small sliding control on the headband to find the optimum balance between comfort and a “tight” fit. Another new feature is the glasses zone on the ear pads: the cushions are particularly soft around the area of the temple arms of sunglasses. “That is not only a comfort feature,” explained Jörg Buchberger. “This zone enables the headset to keep ambient noise out even better. Noise attenuation is excellent.” There are also two soft pads for the headband that avoid contact for the more sensitive central part of the head. The headband itself has an inner metal band made of spring steel that ensures a tailored fit on different head shapes and works with a lower contact pressure than many other headsets. The special ear cup shape and the inclined axis of the headset further improve passive noise attenuation. Compelling aesthetics was maintained alongside all of the functionality and performance the headsets deliver. The ear cups are reminiscent of the sweep of a wing, while the shapes and materials underline the sturdiness and technical quality of the headset. “We have created a powerful, dynamic design that emphasizes performance, reliability and technical innovation of this headset”, said Magnus Aspegren, Director, Singapore Studio at BMW Group DesignworksUSA.
Everything under control
DesignworksUSA paid particular attention to the headset’s control unit. The ergonomic control module with a contoured grip was redesigned for greater ease of use. Its streamlined interface with high-contrast icons on main controls and LED graphics make it ideally equipped for night flights. Highlighted features include separate volumes for each ear: NoiseGard active noise cancellation system on/off, mono/stereo operation, muting on/off and all Bluetooth transmission functions. The Bluetooth-equipped phone or music player can simply be left in a pocket. The unit offers wireless connection to mobile phones and an audio source. It also has two AA batteries to power the electronics of the fully adaptive NoiseGard™ / digital noise cancellation system, which can also alternatively be powered by the on-board power network.
Business Factor Design
The partnership between the creative consultancy and audio specialist started in 2008 with the development of a range of consumer earphones that garnered recognition for its powerful designs including the International CES Innovations Design and Engineering Awards Honoree title for the CX 680 and Singapore President’s Design Award Design of the Year among others. “DesignworksUSA’s in-depth understanding of our partners’ businesses enable tailored solutions, robust results and creative leadership consulting over time,” said Laurenz Schaffer.