June 9, 2015 – A clever idea for delivering wireless headphone technology in airline cabins has won Phitek’s annual undergraduate competition. Phitek, a headphone supplier, challenged Year 3 junior engineers from the University of Auckland in New Zealand to design a wireless audio solution within real-world cost and operating constraints.
Phitek’s R&D manager, Nigel Greig, said the students had to create a wireless product that could meet aviation airline standards and handle the large number of passengers using headphones in the confined space of a cabin. “With 300-plus passengers accessing their in-flight entertainment at the same time, the students had to come up with smart electronic solutions that could handle the high level of interference and be cost-effective for the airline.”
Dr Bernard J. Guillemin, senior lecturer in the University’s department of electrical & computer engineering said one of the primary goals of the Bachelor of Engineering (Hons.) degree program is to prepare students for the challenges they will face in their future careers. “A key aspect of this is exposing students to challenging real-world problems. Collaborations with industry partners such as Phitek is crucial to achieving this,” said Guillemin. “When students see the relevance of what they have been studying through such interactions it greatly enhances their motivation and eagerness to learn.”
Five teams were shortlisted from 20 group entries. All finalists demonstrated fully functioning line-of-sight wireless headphone systems to the judges. The winning team comprising Brian Balanon, Samuel Bird, Jiahao Chen and Emma Wah Lee was chosen at the prize giving on June 5, with the judges mentioning “a very strong business-viable system that achieved clear audio over the longest range.”