Tension is building for the finalists in this year's Crystal Cabin Award competition, the winners of which are set to be revealed at a glittering ceremony at the Hotel Atlantic Kempinski Hamburg tonight.

Live TV in the air, an entertainment programme controlled with eye movements and gestures, more space for cabin baggage, and tables that are not only cleaner and more stylish but even include stowage for mobile telephones are among the 21 innovative aircraft interior products and concepts that have made it into the final round. The 25 experts on the international judging panel whittled down the 47 entries to three finalists for each of the seven categories.

The Industrial Design & Visionary Concepts category includes ideas that benefit not only the airlines, but also passengers. Acro Aircraft Seating of the UK has developed a lightweight, self-cleaning seat table integrated into the armrest, providing more space for the passenger. Paperclip from Hong Kong is nominated for Checkerboard, a passenger seat concept where the individual seating elements can easily be converted between economy and business class configurations. Zodiac Aerospace has meanwhile redesigned the A320 cabin with its Innovative Space Interior System, offering space for 60 percent more cabin baggage.

Dornier Technologie Systems and Lufthansa Technik, both from Germany, impressed the judging panel in the Premium Class and VIP category, as did Zodiac seats. Dornier has developed a robust capacitive touchscreen, while Lufthansa Technik's nice HD system shows high-resolution videos on ultra-thin screens while allowing cabin functions to be controlled using an iPhone or iPad. Zodiac is turning travel into a social experience again with its Reversible Seat, which can be quickly adjusted to enable passengers to sit opposite each other.

Among the products nominated in the Passenger Comfort Hardware category are Diehl Aircabin's Membrane Ceiling Panels, which are designed to reduce drafts and cabin noise levels whil providing pleasant mood lighting. MERU from the UK has developed a flexible seat for severely disabled children, and Zodiac has submitted overhead lockers that allow passengers to store their cabin baggage trolleys in an upright position.

The Passenger Comfort Systems category includes another Zodiac entry, this time from the German Zodiac Premium Galleys division: a modular galley concept occupying less space. Competition comes from two US companies, Row 44 and Thales. Row 44 makes it possible to watch Live TV in flight, while Thales has a developed an in-flight entertainment system that the passenger can control using eye movements and hand gestures.

Competing for a trophy in the Greener Cabin, Health, Safety & Environment category are the UK's Avia Technique, Boeing from the USA and Recaro of Germany. Avia Technique has launched an easy-to-operate portable oxygen supply device. Boeing's Insulated Galley Cart aims to make on-board cooling systems superfluous by keeping products cool from the caterer to the aircraft and throughout the flight. Recaro has developed a process for analysing and evaluating the ecological balance of a seat throughout the entire product lifecycle.

In the Material & Components category, Diehl Aircabin has been nominated for its iPanel with integrated electronics. Lufthansa Technik has extended its non-electrical floor path marking system with ColourCurve, which can follow any required line to the emergency exits. Rogers Corporation from the USA has flatter, more durable cushions made of silicon foam to sustain passenger comfort.

In the University category, the winner also receives €3,000 ($3,860) in prize money. Competing for the prize are students from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, along with students from Germany's Dresden University of Technology and Hamburg University of Applied Sciences. TU Delft is keeping things organised with its folding Tray Table Cabinet, allowing passengers to stow personal effects such as notebooks, mobile telephone and wallets. The Concept Cabin from TU Dresden replaces heavy components with intelligent, flexible materials, converts light and vibration into energy, and equips sidewall panels with 3D displays. The HAW Hamburg submission achieves more space in the lavatory thanks to an innovative lavatory seat, which is especially beneficial to obese passengers and wheelchair users.

The finalists' products and concepts are being presented in the Crystal Cabin Award Gallery at the Aircraft Interiors Expo, and the winners will be presented to show attendees tomorrow at 11am.

Source: Flight Daily News