Listen Up: Why Airlines Should Tune In to Customizable In-Flight Sounds

Guido Knook< Guido Knook
04/02/19 5 MIN READ

Guido Knook is the Head of Product at Berlin-based Mimi Hearing Technologies GmbH. A designer at heart, Knook helped design the first versions of Mimi’s patented hearing test and music products upon joining the company as a User Experience Designer in 2014. Since then, Knook has also served as the company’s Product Manager and Design Lead.

In this guest post, Knook talks about bringing Mimi’s game-changing intelligent hearing technology product, Mimi Defined™, into the airline cabin via Panasonic’s Wellness solution.

Hearing loss in the digital age

Most of us take our hearing for granted. That goes double for hearing loss, which is generally believed to be something that just sort of happens to us when we age. Since most of us accept the degradation in our hearing as inevitable, we don’t really do anything to address the issue in real time, as it’s happening.

But from the age of 18 on, and sometimes even younger, most people begin to lose their hearing. When you factor the frequent and widespread use of headphones and portable music players into the mix, the picture becomes even bleaker; once the default audio settings on our digital devices of choice stop getting the job done, most of us simply crank up the volume. This habit puts the hearing of millions of people worldwide at risk every single day.

According to the World Health Organization, 466 million people have disabling hearing loss—and that number will rise to 900 million by 2050. That makes combatting chronic hearing loss in the digital age a wellness priority across industries, including aviation.

Hoping to tackle this issue head-on, Mimi Hearing Technologies has been looking since 2014 to change the way people think about hearing and its vital role in wellness.

Mimi’s origin story

Central to everything we do at Mimi is our founding principle of “one sound does not fit all.” Our mission from day one has been to ensure that everyone has the ability to hear well. One of the ways we set out to achieve this is through our award-winning Mimi Hearing Test app.

The Mimi Hearing Test measures a person’s hearing ability by turning their iPhone or Android devices into a simple, easy-to-use screening tool. This solution evolved over time to deliver personalized sound adapted to users’ hearing ability.

Over the years, we realized that providing a solution for people to better hear their music or other audio content was only one part of the equation. What we really needed was a forward-thinking platform so we could reach people where they are actually listening with headphones on—like on airplanes. Our current offering, Mimi Defined™, makes it possible.

That’s where our partnership with Panasonic on their new Wellness suite comes into play.

“Over the years, we realized that providing a solution for people to better hear their music or other audio content was only one part of the equation. What we really needed was a forward-thinking platform so we could reach people where they are actually listening with headphones on—like on airplanes. ”

-Guido Knook
Head of Product at Mimi Hearing Technologies GmbH

Mimi Defined™ and wellness

Not only does Mimi Defined™ fit nicely in with the three existing Wellness solutions—Active Noise Control, Premium Seat Lighting, and nanoe™ technology—but it also aligns perfectly with Panasonic’s mission of improving the passenger experience through a mindful wellness narrative.

Because our personalized audio solution makes it easier to distinguish the details in the sounds users are hearing (even on a noisy airplane) the need for cranking the volume up in-flight is significantly diminished. Aside from reducing fatigue and the resultant risk of further long-term hearing damage, this also offers passengers a more peaceful, short-term in-flight wellness experience as well.

And Mimi Defined™ isn’t just a potentially vital component of Panasonic’s Wellness Suite; it is also one of the easiest to integrate into existing IFEC platforms.

Integration benefits

Because there are virtually no logistical or regulatory hurdles involved in bringing Mimi Defined™ into the aircraft, carriers can focus instead on the wide range of benefits our technology affords them.

Aside from differentiating themselves from the pack—especially with younger, tech-savvy travelers who would no doubt appreciate the Mimi Defined™ “cool factor”—airlines could also showcase a host of personalization and accessibility travel options in a meaningful, impactful way.

Mimi Defined™ could prove to be key in ensuring long-time customer loyalty by bringing new features and benefits to carriers’ existing loyalty apps and websites. For instance, passengers could be made aware of Mimi’s capabilities when they book their ticket, allowing them time to download the loyalty app and take our hearing test before even boarding the plane.

But perhaps the biggest benefit to airlines is the way Mimi Defined™ engages the senses by working with the other elements of Wellness to enhance passengers’ transformative wellness journeys.

Looking to the future of Wellness

We are very excited about our ever-evolving partnership with Panasonic and we look forward to Mimi Defined™ taking flight very soon.

We hope to have even more exciting news to share with you at the upcoming AIX in Hamburg. Stay tuned!

Disclaimer: The content of this post reflects the views of the author who is responsible for the facts and accuracy of the information in the post. Presentation of the post on this website does not in any way indicate endorsement, approval, and/or agreement by Panasonic Avionics Corporation (“PAC”) of the information presented. PAC makes no representations of any kind, express or implied about the completeness, accuracy and/or reliability of the information and/or the suitably, availability, safety and effectiveness of the products and/or services described.

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